What is Happening in Catalonia and Spain?
Date Written: 20/12/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Unclassified
Cx Number: CX22206
Vincente Navarro explains the historcal background to the Catalonian independence referendum results in 2017, and notes the political challenges this movement will face.
On October 1, 2017, the police of the Spanish State (known as the National Police) endeavored to take the polling boxes where Catalan people were voting in a referendum with two choices: for or against Catalonian independence from the Spanish State. The voting took place in barricaded buildings (most of them public schools) to protect the boxes containing the votes. With the intent to collect the boxes and stop the voting, the National Police used all types of repressive measures, from rubber bullets, to gas and batons. Nearly 900 people were seriously hurt, and two were in critical condition in area hospitals.
These televised images of the police brutality shocked the population, who responded by going to the streets in masses to protest against the National Police. These popular protests forced the repression to end by early afternoon, allowing people to keep voting until 8:00 p.m. It was the victory of the population over the Central State and its police. The repression was not able to stop the referendum, with 2.5 million voting (approximately 43% of the electorate) and 90 percent favoring independence. The police assault not only failed to stop the vote, it infuriated people who had not planned to vote because they did not sympathize with the pro-independence movement led by the Catalan government. Many of them were from the working-class districts of Barcelona. After seeing the National Police brutality, they voted as a protest against the police behavior. It also showed, among other things, the incompetence of the Spanish government and its police.