After the passing of the historic referendum, set in motion by the government of Catalonia, it now demands for its right of statehood. This referendum was first called for in June 2017, and was passed by the Catalan government in a session on 6 September 2017, along with a law which stated that independence would be binding with a simple majority without requiring a minimum turnout.
This referendum was staunchly opposed by the opposition parties. Participation in the voting session was refused by the parties, and even urged their voters to boycott the session altogether.The constitutional court of Catalonia, even declared the referendum illegal, with the same perceived by the Spanish government.
But against all odds, the voting for the referendum took place with a turnout of 42.3 %. As the referendum was banned by the constitutional court, almost 900 people were hurt as a result of official intervention . Ballot papers and boxes were seized at polling stations.
Out of 5.3 million registered voters, more than 2.2 million people voted; out of which 90% backed independence, as reported by the Catalan authorities. Carlos Puigdemont, regional President, has vowed to declare unilateral independence from Spain within 48 hours of the victory voting.
Though, Spanish government is thoroughly opposing this claim and has decided to discuss it with different Spanish political parties , and is holding an emergency meeting on Monday.
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria praised the actions of Spanish police in cracking down on Catalonia’s independence referendum. “They have fulfilled the orders of justice. They have acted professionally and in a proportional and proportionate manner. The aim of their actions were not people but electoral material. They always wanted to protect rights and freedoms,” she told reporters.
However, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont accused Spain of using “irresponsible and unjustified” violence. The batons, rubber bullets and violence used by Spanish police to prevent voting in what Spanish authorities have said was an illegal referendum had shown a “dreadful external image of Spain”, he said.
The North-Eastern Chronicle presents 15 powerful images of Catalonians voting for self-determination, and Spain’s attempts to stop them doing so.
Spanish riot police burst into polling stations across Catalonia, confiscating ballot boxes and voting papers to try to halt the banned referendum on a split from Spain. Police broke down doors to force entry into voting stations as defiant Catalans shouted “Out with the occupying forces!” and sang the region’s anthem. In one incident in Barcelona, police fired rubber bullets.
Catalan officials said 465 people had been injured, some critically, in the police crackdown. Officers in riot gear hit people with batons and forcibly removed would-be voters, including women and the elderly, from polling stations. The referendum, declared illegal by Spain’s central government, has thrown the country into its worst constitutional crisis since the Fascist dictatorship of General Franco and deepened a centuries-old rift between Madrid and Barcelona.
– By Shaoni Das