spain

The Catalan
government indicated that 2,344,828 votes were cast overall, out of 5.4m
eligible voters. The Catalan government did not provide a final turnout
percentage figure. Turnout estimates published by media outlets range between
37.0%  and 41.6%. 80.8% of the cast votes supported the Yes-Yes
option, 10.1% the Yes-No, 4.5% the No option.

Low turnout and
one-sided results suggest that the poll may have been boycotted by Catalan
voters who oppose independence.

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Due to the low
turnout for the referendum, Catalan president Artur Mas said the vote was
“a lesson in democracy.” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano
Rajoy called the vote a “deep failure” because “two thirds
of Catalans did not participate” and he claimed it violated a ruling of
the Constitutional Court. (The main phrases of Rajoy, 2014)

On February 6, 2017,
the former Catalan president Artur Mas was convicted and barred from public
office by the Constitutional Court of Spain. (Esteban, 2017)

In September 2016, Puigdemont,
the President of Catalonia, told the parliament that a referendum for
independence would be held in the second half of September 2017, with or
without the consent of the Spanish institutions.  It was in June 2017 when
he announced that the referendum would take place on 1 October 2017. The
Spanish government, however, stated that the referendum will not take place
because it is illegal. (Bervick, 2016)

Before the referendum, police were
sent from the rest of Spain to suppress the vote and close polling
locations. Some election organizers were arrested, including Catalan
cabinet officials, while demonstrations by local institutions and street
protests grew larger.

The referendum took place on 1 October
2017, despite being suspended by the Constitutional Court, and despite the
action of Spanish police to prevent voting in some centres.

 

The referendum
question was “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the
form of a republic?”, to which voters had to answer with Yes or No. (Catalan referendum 2017, 2017)

According to the
Catalan authorities, 2,044,038 votes were cast overall, out of 5.4m
eligible voters with a voter turnout of 43.03%. Around 92% of the supporters
supported for independence while the other 8% chose the ‘No’ option. The
Catalan government estimated that about 770,000 potential voters could not vote
due to raids by the Spanish police. (Catalan referendum 2017, 2017)

The Spanish police’s
attempts to stop the Catalan referendum eventually turned into violence. The
security forces met resistance from citizens who obstructed them in their way.
The police used force to try to reach the voting tables and even used batons in
some cases. As a consequence, several hundreds of people were reported injured.

 

In his first
interview since the referendum, Catalonia’s regional president stated he would
declare independence as soon as a final vote tally was determined, and would
subsequently act in a matter of days. Spain’s King
Felipe criticized the referendum for “eroding the harmony and
co-existence within Catalan society itself, managing, unfortunately, to divide
it”. (Mckirdy, 2017)

On 27th
October 2017, the Parliament of Catalonia unilaterally declared
independence from Spain. In response, the Spanish Prime
Minister Mariano Rajoy, with the approval of the Spanish senate fired
the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and scheduled
fresh Catalan elections on 21 December 2017. Moreover, the Spanish Constitutional Court has recently annulled
Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence, which the court described
as “a serious attack on the rule of law”. (Catalan referendum 2017, 2017) (Catalonia
independence: Rajoy dissolves Catalan parliament, 2017)

Catalonia
is a distinct sociolinguistic cultural region that dates back to at least 900
years. They are part of a distinct, proud nation with its own language,
history, culture and flag, and that separate identity has survived Franco’s
brutal attempts to suppress the Catalan language in the decades after the
Spanish Civil War.

Supporters
of independence argue that their language and culture is not sufficiently
respected by the Spanish central government, and they worry that, unless
something is done, their culture will be absorbed.

 

Catalans
are forced to contribute € 17 billion of their hard earned taxes to
the Spanish government annually. They pay more in taxes every year than they
get back in spending and subsidies. Those demands have pushed Catalonia into
debt and left a wealthy country struggling to provide basic services for its
own people. The refusal of the Madrid government to grant Catalonia even the
fiscal economy enjoyed by the Basque Country shows that, according to this
argument, only through independence will Barcelona be able to take control of
its finances and its economic future.

There
is now a clear majority of Catalans who want independence – upto 57% in some
polls. It would be undemocratic not to let them exercise their right to
self-determination. The Catalan people have clearly rejected attempts by the
government in Madrid to roll back the autonomy which Catalonia has gained since
the death of Franco in 1975.

Catalans
do not want to live in a centralized Spanish state under a monarchy for whom
they have little affection. The time has come for the Catalans to choose the
state they want to live in.

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