On Tuesday, Spain’s highest court suspended the Catalan independence vote in response to a legal challenge filed by prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s government in Madrid.
In defiance of that constitutional ruling and vows from Madrid the vote would not take place, it did. Millions voted and the results will likely be for independence.
The Financial Times reports Catalan Leaders Hope Poll Turnout Will Send Independence Signal.
Millions of Catalans took part in a symbolic vote on the political future of the northern Spanish region on Sunday, in the biggest show of strength yet for Catalonia’s increasingly vocal independence campaign.
The poll was held in the face of fierce opposition from the Spanish government, and despite a constitutional court ruling last week to suspend the exercise. Results due to be published on Monday are expected to show an overwhelming majority in favour of independence. Most anti-independence parties were opposed to the poll.
Voter turn-out by 6pm, with voting stations set to remain open for another two hours, was thought to be high – significantly more than have attended even the largest independence rallies to date. Catalonia has a population of 7.5m, of whom 5.4m are eligible to vote.
“We have been waiting for this opportunity for many years,” said Pau Domingo, a 22-year old pro-independence voter outside a polling station in central Barcelona. “This is an important step towards taking our destiny in our hands, and towards no longer depending on a state that doesn’t accept us the way we are.”
Despite a series of last-minute legal appeals and a warning from the state prosecution service, the voting process across the region was orderly and peaceful, Catalan officials said. In many cities, voters formed long queues before polling stations opened at 9am, generating what participants described as a “festive atmosphere”.
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, told a party conference on Saturday that the Catalan vote “is not a referendum, it is not a consultation, or anything like that.” He added: “It will have no effect.”
Voters were asked for their response to two questions. The first was: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” If answered affirmatively, the ballot paper posed a second question: “Do you want that state to be independent?”
Rajoy said the vote would have “no effect”.
Of course it did. His government pledged to stop the vote. Millions of Catalans effectively gave Rajoy the finger. Voter turnout was higher than expected in defiance of the court.
Rajoy’s government has been weakened. Is that not an effect? Expect tensions to increase. If so, is that not an effect?
Prior to the vote, Catalans faced a Cyber-Attack on the Catalan National Congress (ANC) Website, effectively shutting it down.
In addition, “75 mobile phones used in the last few days to campaign in favor of the referendum were blocked by a massive reception of calls from an unknown origin.”
What’s next is unclear, but you cannot disenfranchise 7.5 million people to the point of open defiance of a court ruling and claim there is “no effect”.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock