On Oct.1, the Catalonia region of Spain recently held an illegal referendum to vote for Catalan independence, accruing more than 2.2 million votes and over 750 injured voters.
Why were they voting?
- Catalonia is one of Spain’s richest and most influential regions, accounting for the majority of the country’s economy and the second biggest city, Barcelona
- The region has its own language, its own customs, and its own form of government
- Before the Spanish civil war, Catalonia operated with autonomy, free to do as it pleased.
- Since then, however, the region has had sporadic periods of freedom and restraint according to the Spanish government’s fluctuations in power
- Many Catalan residents feel that takes money away from the more prosperous region with little given in return and have asked for an independence referendum several times over the years
- The Spanish Constitution, however, declares Spain indivisible, making such a break illegal
What happened on the day of the vote?
- The Catalan parliament enacted its own law that stated, “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?” with only an option of yes or no
- If majority voted yes, the Catalan government was to declare independence within two days
- Over 2.2 million Catalan citizens turned up to vote in the referendum
- Spanish National Police in riot gear showed up to disband crowds and prevent citizens from voting, resulting in 750 injured voters and several injured police.
- The referendum organizers report that 90 percent of votes were in favor of independence
What happens next?
- Catalan President Carles Puigdemont delayed the declaration of independence to allow negotiations with Madrid
- His party aims to de escalate tensions with Madrid before the separation in the hope of retaining an ally going forward
- Hardline separatists, however, worry that delay will never result in independence
- Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish interior minister, states that the Catalan people must observe the constitution, making this referendum null and void
- Tensions still run high, and national police remain prepared to intervene should any protests break out