What’s Happening in Spain?



People react as they gather at Plaza Catalunya after voting ended for the banned independence referendum, in Barcelona, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Clare McNamara , Contributor

Catalonia, a former community of Spain held a vote last Sunday, October 1st, petitioning for independence from the country. Over two million people showed up to the referendum in northeast Spain. Far more than half of the voters, in fact around 90%, were in favor of a separation from Madrid, according to the regional government of Catalonia. However, at the polls, results reached around 42% in favor of the split. The Catalonians blamed this low figure on the harshness of the Spanish government overseeing the vote, and the vote was said to be “illegal” according to the Spanish Constitution. In rebellion to this action, Catalonia brought their police force into Barcelona to enforce that the vote would occur. Ballots were taken and public buildings such as schools were used as stations to hold the vote. The Spanish took violence to prevent the casting of ballots, and many Catalans were shocked by the behavior of the police forces.

Unfortunately, the vote has created violence and uprisings in the country, and many people have been injured. During the riots, windows were broken and over 900 people were injured. The vote took place in Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital city, and buildings and streets were filled with voters and protestors.

Catalonia and Spain have been one country since the 15th century when Ferdinand and Isabella united the nation through their marriage. In the 20th century, Spain became a republic, and Catalonia a statute of autonomy, otherwise it was a subnation. However, because of Prime Minister Franco, that title was taken away under his regime, which caused the issues that Catalan is having now. When Franco died, Catalan became an autonomy again, but with a significant power loss. The issues of the Spain and Catalan debate stretch for centuries, mainly heating up in the last 100 years. Seven years ago, Spain’s economy took a dip, refueling the Catalan resentment to become separate from Spain. The fight has been apparent in Spain these past seven years, heating up this October. 

The vote was an important step for Catalan’s recognition and inspiration. The vote caused distress between both regions and many were injured. The vote was held, however, it was considered an illegitimate vote by the Spanish officials. The fight for Catalan independence is still a pressing issue, but this vote was a big step towards recognition for independence. 

Picture Courtesy of Indian Express