Catalonia cries for Secession
On October 1, 2017, the Spanish province of Catalonia held a referendum. This vote had only two options on its ballot, yes or no. The vote was for the secession of Catalonia from the Spanish state and to form a new Catalonian Republic.
To gain some background and idea of their reasoning, one must look at the history and relationship between Spain and Catalonia. There is some historical reasoning behind the need and want for Catalonian secession and independence. For centuries, up until the 1700’s, Catalonia was an independent nation, with its own language and culture as the Kingdom of Aragon, Principality of Catalonia and a kingdom in the Hapsburg Empire. In the early 1900’s Catalonia gained autonomy under the Spanish Republic but was soon suppressed in an almost genocidal way during the Spanish Civil War and regime under Generalissimo Franco until 1975. The idea of a free Catalonia is not a new one.
But it came to fruition in the 2015 Catalonian Parliamentarian elections, where the Separatist and left wing radical coalitions parties of the Junts pel Si and CUP won 48 percent of the seats. The Catalonian President then issued a public survey where 2.2 million Catalonians were in favour for independence. This then led to a call for referendum on October 1, 2017. The response from the Spanish government and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stated that this vote is illegal under the Spanish Constitution and that if the vote occurs it will be met with force. On the morning of Sunday October 1, 2017, the Prime Minister ordered the mobilization and deployment of the Spanish state police and national guard to Barcelona and other Catalonian cities.
There they tried to shut down the election, smashed ballot counters and impounded ballots. Members of the Catalonian parliament were either arrested or went into brief hiding. Citizens and police clashed ending with hundreds of Catalans being injured, some severely. Separatist websites were then set up to inform the public of secret voting locations and a total 2,286,217 of the 6 million votes casted were counted before confiscation; a total of 48% of the population. Out of that 48 percent, 90 percent voted in favor of secession and independence. According to Catalan law, a declaration of independence needs to be issued two days after a successful election, but as of now none have been issued.
On the night of October 10, 2017, the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont made a statement to the Catalonian Parliament and then to the people of Barcelona. He declared that Catalonia has won the right to independence, but that a declaration of independence for the region will be put on hold for the reasoning that he and other officials want to peacefully secede and to be on good negotiable and diplomatic terms with the Spanish government. As of now Prime Minister Rajoy and King Felipe VI have stated that they have no intention of negotiating and speaking to the Catalan government until secession is off the table and they will agree to remain a province in the Spanish Republic.
Mark Blatchford, a junior, studies political science. He is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.