Catalonia: A Vote for Independence Amidst Violence

Police stormed polling stations and repressed demonstrators during the referendum on Catalan independence.
  • Alejandra Ríos | 
  • October 2, 2017

The referendum on Catalan Independence has gone ahead despite being declared illegal by the Spanish constitutional court in early September. 90% of those who faced repression from the Spanish State to vote supported independence.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that the referendum vote is an “act of disobedience”, pledged to stop the vote. Yesterday, he sent national police to close polling stations throughout Catalonia. As the world watched, the police attacked voters in the streets and in polling places. Over 900 people were injured in the brutal attacks by police.

Prior to the vote, the Catalan Parliament approved a legal framework for a transition to independence and a declaration now seems imminent.

In the days leading up to the referendum, the chief prosecutor of the Spanish State presented criminal charges against members of the Catalan parliament and government for supporting independence. As a result, several MPs and senior members of the government were arrested.

Over the last two weeks, Catalan students occupied colleges and universities and called rallies defending the right to vote. However, millions of ballot papers were confiscated by the Spanish government in a first attempt to stop the referendum. Yet, these hard-line tactics only increased the turnout and intensified the “independentista” feeling.

The referendum is taking place amid police violence against Catalanonians who gathered at the polling stations to exercise their right to decide the future of their region. Hundreds were injured as riot police stormed Catalan referendum polling stations. No one was safe from police batons [and the firing of rubber bullets] and online videos show the extent of the violent, often bloody encounters with the police. In its wake, hundreds of injuries were reported.

Salva Lou, a teaching assistant at Torrent d’en Melis en Horta-Guinardó, a school in Barcelona, reports:

“In our school we managed to vote, but we have just heard that a neighbouring school used as a polling station has been raided. More than 30 anti riot vans were deployed to prevent people from voting. They charged against the people and entered by force, hitting people in the crowd…People are gathering at the polling stations to resist. This is the response by the national government, led by Rajoy, with the support of the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) and Ciudadanos (a centre-right coalition)…Today in Catalonia universal fundamental rights have been trampled. People want to vote to win the right to political self-determination”

Catalan Referendum October 1, 2017

The referendum in Catalonia takes place under heavy repression by the Spanish national government

Publicado por Left Voice em Domingo, 1 de outubro de 2017

According to the Spanish interior ministry, 336 voting centres out of more than 2,000 were closed by local and national police. Voting stopped at 8pm Spanish time.

Prime Minister Rajoy defended the brutal actions of the police saying, “Today there has not been a self-determination referendum in Catalonia. The rule of law remains in force with all its strength…We have acted, as I have said from the beginning, according to the law and only according to the law. And we have shown that our democratic state has the resources to defend itself from an attack as serious as the one that was perpetrated with this illegal referendum. Today, democracy has prevailed because we have obeyed the constitution.”

This sentiment was echoed by France’s Emmanuel Macron, who called Rajoy to express support for the “constitutional unity” of Spain– remaining silent about the brutal repression.

Jordi Turull, the Catalan regional government spokesman, said that that 90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted on Sunday chose independence. These results do not include the ballots that were confiscated by Spanish police. According to Turull, 8% of voters rejected independence and the rest of the ballots were blank or void. Catalonia has 5.3 million registered voters.

Catalonia’s regional leader, Carles Puigdemont, reported to the press “ in the next few days, will send the results of [the] vote to the Catalan Parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the referendum law.”

Major regional trade union:, the Intersindical Alternativa de Catalunya (IAC) representing education workers, the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT), the pro-independence regional Coordinadora Obrera sindical (COS) and the historic anarchist Confederation Nacional del Trabajo CNT have called a general strike on October 3. The organization “Taula per la Democràcia”, which is made up of major trade unions in Catalonia also called for the general strike.

La Izquierda Diario from the Spanish State writes, “This Sunday, the Spanish State showed its true colors- the colors of an oppressive and repressive state that can only maintain its power by beating people and stealing ballot boxes. Still, Catalonians went to the streets, resisted in their schools and defended their democratic right to chose. “

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