Northeast Spainhas shocked the world, and particularly Madrid, with sudden and remarkable fervor for independence.
The Catalan separatist movement has a long history, beginning roughly in 1922. Independence has only become a feasibility in the last decade or so, however. In 2006 the government of Catalonia announced that its own people would determine the future of the province via The Statute of Autonomy, announcing its intent to allow Catalan citizens the right to be self-determinant about the status of their home region.
Since, a non-binding vote was cast in 2010, with little attendance. In 2014, after pressure from Madrid, a proposed binding secession referendum was made non binding. This time is very different. This vote, this time, is binding- if you believe the Catalan government- and illegal if you believe the Spanish.
The Spanish central government is having none of it. They have declared the vote itself to be illegal and have taken reprehensible action to prevent it.
To use the failed Scottish independence referendum that threatened to tear the UK apart last year as a metric, the Catalan Oct 1st referendum makes the 2016 vote in Scotland look inconsequential. For starters, Scotland is nowhere near as important to the UK as Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia are to Spain. Scotland, on a very good year, might be able to contribute 10% of the UK’s total GDP, Catalonia, however, regularly accounts for 20% of the Spanish GDP.
Catalans actually speak a separate language from the rest of Spain, and unlike Scotland, experienced brutal repression in the last century under a fascist dictator.
The major reason that this vote of secession has garnered so much attention is that the projected outcome. Independence is projected to win handily.
The Spanish government, in an attempt to preempt having to deal with a territory in open defiance of its rule, acted swiftly Wednesday. Spanish militarized police, the Civil Guard, raided at least 20 Catalan governmental offices and arrested at least 14 officials. Officers all over Barcelona searched out and seized thousands of suspected ballots.
The very obvious police presence only further catalyzed what was one of the most spectacular protests western Europe has seen in decades.
It is unclear what will happen in the coming days. Native Catalans are eager to vote and are pleading with the international community, but the Central government is not taking any chances in shutting down what many would call a natural right of any people. Keep with us here at The Libertarian Republic for updates.