Catalonia’s president refuses to back down
The violence which marred Catalonia’s independence referendum has dominated the coverage,
but the region’s president is confident about what the result means: Catalonia has
won the ‘right to an independent state in the form of a Republic,’ he said last night.
The outcome of the vote certainly seems convincing at first glance: 90 per cent of
Catalans voted to split from Spain on a 42 per cent turnout. But Puigdemont’s many
opponents say that the chaotic nature of yesterday’s voting renders the overall result
meaningless. According to Catalan authorities, 319 of around 2,300 polling stations
across Catalonia were closed by police. In the run-
It’s not only the statistics from the vote being called into question, however. The
more decisive objection to yesterday’s vote remains that it possesses no binding
or legal force whatsoever. Weeks before it happened, Spain’s highest court ruled
that the proposed referendum violated the Spanish constitution and was therefore
illegal – a decision that has since been the foundation of Rajoy’s opposition to
the vote. In fact, so determined is the Spanish prime minister to undermine the referendum’s
legitimacy that he hasn’t even denounced its result as meaningless. He simply stated
yesterday evening that ‘there has not been a referendum on self-
Fully aware of the fact that he risks prison by pursuing secession, Puigdemont went ahead with yesterday’s referendum anyway – an act of defiance to which Rajoy responded by sending the troops in. As a result, TV viewers all over the world were presented with disturbing scenes on Sunday afternoon: riot police crashing into the polling station in which Puigdemont was due to vote and seizing ballot boxes (the president was forced to vote elsewhere); rubber bullets being fired into crowds by national police; and a woman being pulled out of a polling station by her hair.
In total, Catalan medical officials said 844 people suffered minor injuries, including
33 police officers. Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau denounced the heavy-
Never has the irreconcilability of the two sides in this bitter debate been clearer.
For Puigdemont, yesterday was a great day of ‘hope and suffering’ that has won his
people the right – so long fought for – to split from an unwanted central government
in Madrid. He has promised to take the result to the regional parliament within days