Region of Catalonia Pushes for Independence

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
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