Thursday

19th Apr 2018

Defiant Catalonia holds independence poll

  • Voter-turnout on Sunday will give some kind of indication of how big the independence movement really is in Catalonia (Photo: sba73)

There is a certain feeling of excitement in the air, the kind which makes the hairs on the skin stand up. Something big is about to happen.

Red and yellow striped flags can now be found all over Catalonia, hanging on balconies, houses and official buildings. Many of the them carry the blue triangle with the white star - a call for independence.

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  • There really is no no-campaign as such apart from the ‘no vote allowed’ stance from Madrid (Photo: Helena Spongenberg)

There is also a few signs reading “votar es normal!” (voting is normal) as a protest to the fact that Catalonia is not able to hold a referendum on independence with the blessing of Madrid nor a “consultation” on the question.

The 9N - as the consultative and non-legally-binding vote is called - serves to give the Catalan authorities a better idea of how big support for independence is across Catalonia.

During the last three nights at ten o’clock, the evening silence has been broken for five minutes by the banging on pots from balconies all over Barcelona - another protest to the latest setback for the pseudo-referendum.

At the end of September, Catalan president Artur Mas signed a decree calling for a consultation asking Catalans whether they want independence.

Two days later, the Spanish government asked the Constitutional Court to determine whether such a consultation breaches the Spanish Constitution. The Court suspended the vote while it looks at the case.

The Catalan government then called for a New 9N managed by volunteers and assisted by the Catalan government.

This week the Constitutional Court suspended the New 9N vote as well while it determines whether it infringes the Constitution.

The vote is still to go ahead and preparations as well as the voting on Sunday will be carried out by 40,000 volunteers across the Catalan region. Some of these volunteers were on Plaça Catalunya on Friday helping citizens find out in which public school they can cast their ballot.

“Independence is not the final goal,” said 75 year-old volunteer Josep Abril. “But it is essential to be able to reach our final goal, which is a new country. A country where we decide on our own social and economic matters,” he added.

Barcelona often complains that while Catalonia is one of the main contributors to the stately coffers, little investment is given back to the region.

No no-campaign

The Spanish government has promised that so long as the vote is organised by civilian volunteers and not by the Catalan government, it will not call on the police to stop the event.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his conservative Partido Popular government believe in a centralised Spain and their centralist policies clash with regions like Catalonia that have their own strong cultural identity.

Each confrontation with Madrid increases the Catalan wish to decide on their own destiny.

A recent poll showed that 49,4 percent of Catalans would vote in favour of independence and answer yes to the two questions on the voting paper: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state? If so, do you want this state to be independent?”.

Around twelve percent would vote yes and no to the second question while just under 20 percent would vote no.

Although the survey was published only recently, it was carried out back in April - a few confrontations ago.

Among the many Catalan flags are some Spanish flags. But a proper no campaign is not to be seen.

One group set up in April, and called the Catalan Civil Society, say they represent the “silent majority” of Catalans that want to stay “together and better”.

But their voice are not as loud as the yes-vote groups, the Catalan National Assembly and the Omnium - the organisers of the crowded Catalan national day demonstrations of recent years.

Voter turnout on Sunday will give some kind of indication of how big the independence movement really is in Catalonia.

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