Police in Spain try to stop independence vote

Catalonia, the region of Spain that includes Barcelona and the Pyrenees Mountains, is set to vote for independence on October 1. The government of Spain is trying to stop the separatists and has sent in the Guardia Civil police to shut down the Catalan government.

Catalonia? Along with Basque Country and Galicia, Catalonia is officially a nationality and has automony, though it is still ultimately under the authority of the constitution and government of Spain. The nationality is located in the extreme northeastern part of Spain.
559px-Cataluna_in_Spain_-plus_Canarias-.svg

Catalonia, as a nationality, exercises its self-government constituted as an Autonomous Community in accordance with the Constitution and with the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, which is its basic institutional law, always under the law in Spain
-- 1979 and 2006 Statue of Autonomy

How did this happen? The Catalan parliament passed a referendum law and the nationality's government announced they will declare indpendence from Spain within 48 hours of a "Yes" vote. Spain's Constitutional Court exercised their authority to suspend the law, but the government of Catalonia has ignored their ruling.

Disrupting the vote: Spain has been stepping up pressure and trying to find ways to keep the vote from happening. They recently seized 6 million ballots from a warehouse outside Barcelona and 45,000 Catalan government stamped envelopes. Reports suggest Madrid is also forcing telecoms to block referendum related sites.

Stepping up pressure: The Guardia Civil acts with authority of Spain's interior ministry. Early this morning, they raided at least 20 Catalan government buildings. A dozen Catalan government officials have been arrested and mayors supporting the referendum were questioned by state prosecutors. From Madrid's point of view, the Catalan government is violating the constitution and flaunting the Spanish government's authority, so these steps are justified.

Will the referendum even pass? Maybe. A non-binding 2014 vote resulted in 80% of voters supporting independence, but less than half of potential voters turned out. A Catalan government survey in July actually saw 41% supporting independence, but 49% voting "No." The government in Madrid appears to not be taking any chances.

How is the Catalan government responding? With a PR blitz. President Carles Puigdemont gave remarks in English to maximize global attention. He is appealing to Catalonians' rights as members of the EU and claiming Madrid's actions violate the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

And the people? Many are heading a call to head to the streets for peaceful protests.


Feature image Image by Kippelboy from Wikimedia Commons

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