Things we learned from the Catalan referendum

Things we learned from the Catalan referendum
By Alice Cuddy
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Eight things you need to know about Catalonia's independence referendum


Catalans went to the polls on October 1 to vote in a referendum on independence deemed illegal by the Spanish government.

The results were later announced by the Catalan government: 90% of voters were in favour of independence, with a turnout of 42.3%.

Here are eight things we learned from the tense day of voting:

1. The referendum widened the divide between separatists and unionists. In a sign of how much it polarised Spain, on the weekend voters went to the polls thousands of pro-unity demonstrators gathered in major cities to oppose attempts to break away.

2. Spanish police showed early in the day that they would take an active approach to stopping the vote, including raiding polling stations and confiscating ballots. Officers raided the station where Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont was due to cast his ballot, forcing him to go elsewhere.

He votat a Cornellà. Cues molt llargues. La seva dignitat contrasta amb la indignitat de la violència policial.

— Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) October 1, 2017

3. Some voters were determined to resist the crackdown, leading to ugly scenes of demonstrators being dragged from buildings, struck by police and fired on with rubber bullets. Security forces also clashed with local public workers including the Catalan police and fire services.

Catalan firefighters defending voters from the Spanish police. Absolutely astonishing.

— Owen Jones? (@OwenJones84) 1 octobre 2017

This is what’s happening right now in Catalunya

— Helena Urbano (@helmonroe) 1 octobre 2017

Els mossos</a> s'encaren a la <a href="">guardiacivil durant un dels desallotjaments en què la gent era arrossegada per terra.

— SER CATALUNYA (@SERCatalunya) 1 octobre 2017

4. The Catalan Health Department said 844 people required medical assistance “as a consequence of the actions of the Spanish police” as of around 10 pm. The Interior Ministry said 19 police officers and 14 personnel from Guardia Civil, Spain’s military law enforcement agency, required medical attention.

The Department of Health informs that 844 people required medical assistance today on

— Salut (@salutcat) 1 octobre 2017

1-Un total de 19 policia</a> y 14 <a href="">guardiacivil han requerido atención médica inmediata a raíz de su trabajo hoy en los colegios,

— Ministerio Interior (@interiorgob) 1 octobre 2017

5. In a speech following the close of the polls, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy praised the police response and said there could be “no acceptance of this illegal referendum… We shall remain unified.”

Siempre he ofrecido diálogo dentro de la ley y la democracia. Mañana debemos comenzar el restablecimiento de la normalidad institucional

— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) October 1, 2017

6. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said he would declare independence if the majority of voters responded yes to the referendum’s single question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?” In a message directed to the leaders of Europe, he said: “Citizens have earned the right to have an independent state in the form of a republic.”

DIRECTO Pedro Sánchez pide al Govern que vuelva a la senda de la responsabilidad

— EL PAÍS (@el_pais) 1 octobre 2017

7. The violent scenes were condemned by some international figures including UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Others offered their support to Spanish unity. The UK Foreign Office issued a statement saying the referendum was a matter for the Spanish government and people. “We want to see Spanish law and the Spanish constitution respected and the rule of law upheld. Spain is a close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matters to us,” it said.

Statement from foreignoffice</a> on <a href="">#Catalonia</a> is shamefully weak. A true friend of Spain would tell them today’s actions wrong and damaging. <a href=""></a></p>— Nicola Sturgeon (NicolaSturgeon) 1 octobre 2017

Police violence against citizens in #Catalonia is shocking. The Spanish government must act to end it now.

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) 1 octobre 2017

Violence can never be the answer! We condemn all forms of violence and reaffirm our call for political dialogue #CatalanReferendum#Spain

— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) 1 octobre 2017

8. Once the votes have been counted, the Catalan government has said that if the “yes” vote wins, it will unilaterally declare independence within two days.


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