SAU Buzz

Catalonia’s fight for independence

by Beth Ann Koustas
Posted on Nov 02, 2017

On Oct. 1, the Spanish region of Catalonia voted in a referendum that drew international attention. The ballot in question asked citizens of Catalonia if they wanted to declare independence from Spain and become an independent state in the form of a republic. Catalonia is home to over 7 million people, with its most notable city being Barcelona.

However, this referendum was met with violence from Spanish authorities, who did not support the vote. The Guardian reported in late September that Spain’s civil and national police officers were tasked with raids that included confiscating ballot papers, polling station signs and documents ahead of the referendum.

CNN reported that Spanish national police raided polling stations, beat voters with batons and fired rubber bullets into crowds in Catalonia on Oct. 1 in an attempt to deny the vote’s legitimacy and prevent people from voting. Regional officials reported that more than 800 people had been injured in the referendum violence.

The Government of the Generalitat in Catalonia reported that 92% had voted in favor of the independence referendum, with the total number of voters participating at over 2 million. However, the Spanish government does not recognize these results. King Felipe stated on Oct. 3 that Catalan authorities are attempting to break the unity of Spain, the Guardian reported.

According to CNN, Spain’s highest court suspended a meeting of Catalonia’s regional parliament in an attempt to prevent a declaration of independence by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

On Oct. 16, the Spanish national court had two prominent Catalan independence leaders arrested. According to the Telegraph, Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly and Jordi Cuixart of the Omnium Cultural were arrested after being accused of leading protests for the independence movement.

According to the BBC, on Oct. 27, Catalonia’s regional parliaments voted to declare independence from Spain. The vote was approved with 70 in favor, 10 against and 2 abstaining. A pro-independence crowd gathered outside the parliament and cheered as each vote was cast.

The celebration was short lived for the pro-independence supporters. CNN reported later in the day that Spain dismissed Catalonia’s president and cabinet. The Catalonian Parliament was also dissolved and the police chief was fired. The Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has called for new elections to replace those removed. The measures were taken in effort to gain control over the region. Rajoy said the government needs to restore legality after the constitutional crisis caused by the independence vote. The moves taken by the Prime Minister were legal under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

CNN reports that the European Union has supported the Spanish government and does not recognize the independence vote. They also report that the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Germany have stated that they will not recognize the Catalonian independence.