The last round of the popular referendums for Catalonia’s independence took place yesterday in Barcelona. The city honoured its place as the capital of Catalonia with a high turnout 21.37% (89.7% ‘yes’, 8.8% ‘no’). More than 257.000 people cast their vote in more than 300 voting schools. Everything was organized by a team of several hundred volunteers using a computer-based networked system to prevent duplicate votes. The total cost of the operation was 200.000 euros, all private donations, plus the loads of time invested by the volunteers.
Compare that, for instance, to last year’s consultation about Diagonal Avenue, with a cost of 4 million euros, all public funds, and a turnout of 12%. This ridicules even more the attemps of Barcelona’s mayor Hereu, from the Catalan branch of the Spanish nationalist PSOE, to boycott yesterday’s referendum. Looks like Hereu will lose Barcelona, one of PSOE’s strongholds, on May 22nd, after 30 years and is another symptom of the decline of this party in Catalonia after their worst results ever on the Catalan elections last November.
Noone knows exactly the extent of the impact of these referendums but it will likely be big, for instance it has forced all politicians to position themselves with regards to independence, either by voting or ignoring it. No more excuses and no more ambiguity. No more saying you are catalanist but not acting consequently.
For instance, on wednesday the Catalan Parliament will debate a law proposal for a declaration of independence. Now that CiU’s deputies and members of the Government, including the Catalan President, Mas, have voted Yes on this referendum they’ll have to give many explanations for any non affirmative vote on wednesday.
In any case these referendums have shown that Catalan society is a few steps ahead of its politicians in the independence issue. Also, after yesterday politicians will no longer be able to claim that independence doesn’t interest people and anyone acting towards independence can feel backed by the results.
The question now is when will a full scale referendum organised by the Catalan Government take place and whether or not it should take place before or after a declaration of independence.
The Spanish nationalist politicians have chosen not to participate and avoid democracy shielding behind the status quo and saying these were not official referendums. But the empty arguments they have presented, claiming that there are more important issues to deal with than independence, have left Catalan independentism as the only side with arguments in the discussion.
Personally I was lucky enough to be in Barcelona yesterday so I was thrilled to give the organisers a hand by making video documentaries in my area and even though it was exhausting it felt great. You can check those videos below.
3 thoughts on “Barcelona votes on Catalonia’s independence”
Good to have an account of this from someone with first-hand experience of what is happening on the ground.
I’ll be watching the parliamentary debate on the independence bill with interest. Will the CiU perhaps try to get out of its difficulty so far as that is concerned by allowing its MPs a free vote?
Hi Frankly, thanks for your comment. I highly doubt CiU will allow its deputies a free vote on wednesday, but hey that’s a bet I wouldn’t mind losing a few quid on.
Firstly, CiU didn’t go to the Catalan elections with independence in the program. Also, they have important inner business lobbies with many interests in Spain which are very scared and conservative and believe independence would hurt their business, when reality seems to point in another direction. So they want to attempt first a new fiscal deal to stop the fiscal plundering on Catalonia, but they know very well that the initiative is doomed for failure. Spain just wouldn’t be able to function as it is without it. Then why did they propose that? that’s a good question.
Secondly, CiU haven’t completely processed internally the independence target yet, they seem to be sort of on a transition. But, above all, CiU want to stay in power so they’ll only switch to open independentism forced by the situation if they feel their position threatened. Sad but true.
On the other hand, we are seeing things I would not have believed a few months ago so nobody knows when the spark that starts the change is going to happen. Could take weeks, months or a few years. Who knows, we may be standing on the brink of it.