On Sunday, October 1, the government of Catalonia held a referendum on Catalan independence from Spain. The referendum, which read “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic,” was overwhelmingly approved by the Catalan people, with 2,020,144 people voting in favor, and only 176,565 people voting against it. The vote took place after being suspended by Spain’s Constitutional Court on September 7 because the Catalan government refused to obey the court order.
The vote in Catalonia has been called into question based on its legitimacy and lack of legality. The Spanish Constitution directly bans votes on independence for any Spanish region and also deems any vote without illegal without the consent of the national government. The Catalan government, however, claims that the vote is legal because of its right to self-determination. The Catalan government also maintains that the vote is legal because they passed a law authorizing the referendum through their own regional parliament, and that they don’t need the consent of the national government.
The referendum was met with much violence by both civilians and Spanish authorities. When Catalonia’s police force prevented the closure of polling stations, the National Police Corps and Civil Guard was forced to intervene, and rather violently. The face-off between civilians and police resulted in injury to 893 civilians and 431 agents of the national police force. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has come under deep scrutiny from around the globe due to the violence that has ensued. The European Commission issued a statement saying that the referendum is not legal, but encourage all involved to move from violence to productive dialogue.
Spain faces a serious crisis, and it is yet to be determined what will happen with the referendum. Since there is little chance that the Catalan government will begin to comply with Spanish court orders, the future of the referendum and Catalonia’s status remains up in there, and only time will likely tell what the final outcome will be of the Catalan Independence Referendum.