The Catalangovernment indicated that 2,344,828 votes were cast overall, out of 5.4meligible voters. The Catalan government did not provide a final turnoutpercentage figure. Turnout estimates published by media outlets range between37.
0% and 41.6%. 80.8% of the cast votes supported the Yes-Yesoption, 10.1% the Yes-No, 4.5% the No option.
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Low turnout andone-sided results suggest that the poll may have been boycotted by Catalanvoters who oppose independence.Due to the lowturnout for the referendum, Catalan president Artur Mas said the vote was”a lesson in democracy.” Spanish Prime Minister MarianoRajoy called the vote a “deep failure” because “two thirdsof Catalans did not participate” and he claimed it violated a ruling ofthe Constitutional Court. (The main phrases of Rajoy, 2014)On February 6, 2017,the former Catalan president Artur Mas was convicted and barred from publicoffice by the Constitutional Court of Spain. (Esteban, 2017)In September 2016, Puigdemont,the President of Catalonia, told the parliament that a referendum forindependence would be held in the second half of September 2017, with orwithout the consent of the Spanish institutions. It was in June 2017 whenhe announced that the referendum would take place on 1 October 2017. TheSpanish government, however, stated that the referendum will not take placebecause it is illegal. (Bervick, 2016)Before the referendum, police weresent from the rest of Spain to suppress the vote and close pollinglocations.
Some election organizers were arrested, including Catalancabinet officials, while demonstrations by local institutions and streetprotests grew larger.The referendum took place on 1 October2017, despite being suspended by the Constitutional Court, and despite theaction of Spanish police to prevent voting in some centres. The referendumquestion was “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in theform of a republic?”, to which voters had to answer with Yes or No. (Catalan referendum 2017, 2017)According to theCatalan authorities, 2,044,038 votes were cast overall, out of 5.4meligible voters with a voter turnout of 43.
03%. Around 92% of the supporterssupported for independence while the other 8% chose the ‘No’ option. TheCatalan government estimated that about 770,000 potential voters could not votedue to raids by the Spanish police. (Catalan referendum 2017, 2017)The Spanish police’sattempts to stop the Catalan referendum eventually turned into violence. Thesecurity 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 insome cases. As a consequence, several hundreds of people were reported injured.
In his firstinterview since the referendum, Catalonia’s regional president stated he woulddeclare independence as soon as a final vote tally was determined, and wouldsubsequently act in a matter of days. Spain’s KingFelipe criticized the referendum for “eroding the harmony andco-existence within Catalan society itself, managing, unfortunately, to divideit”. (Mckirdy, 2017)On 27thOctober 2017, the Parliament of Catalonia unilaterally declaredindependence from Spain. In response, the Spanish PrimeMinister Mariano Rajoy, with the approval of the Spanish senate firedthe Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and scheduledfresh Catalan elections on 21 December 2017. Moreover, the Spanish Constitutional Court has recently annulledCatalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence, which the court describedas “a serious attack on the rule of law”.
(Catalan referendum 2017, 2017) (Catalonia independence: Rajoy dissolves Catalan parliament, 2017)Cataloniais a distinct sociolinguistic cultural region that dates back to at least 900years. They are part of a distinct, proud nation with its own language,history, culture and flag, and that separate identity has survived Franco’sbrutal attempts to suppress the Catalan language in the decades after theSpanish Civil War.Supportersof independence argue that their language and culture is not sufficientlyrespected by the Spanish central government, and they worry that, unlesssomething is done, their culture will be absorbed. Catalansare forced to contribute € 17 billion of their hard earned taxes tothe Spanish government annually. They pay more in taxes every year than theyget back in spending and subsidies. Those demands have pushed Catalonia intodebt and left a wealthy country struggling to provide basic services for itsown people.
The refusal of the Madrid government to grant Catalonia even thefiscal economy enjoyed by the Basque Country shows that, according to thisargument, only through independence will Barcelona be able to take control ofits finances and its economic future.Thereis now a clear majority of Catalans who want independence – upto 57% in somepolls. It would be undemocratic not to let them exercise their right toself-determination. The Catalan people have clearly rejected attempts by thegovernment in Madrid to roll back the autonomy which Catalonia has gained sincethe death of Franco in 1975.Catalansdo not want to live in a centralized Spanish state under a monarchy for whomthey have little affection.
The time has come for the Catalans to choose thestate they want to live in.