First Anniversary of Catalan Independence Referendum

One year following the Catalan Independence Referendum, citizens are demanding a total break from the Spanish government. With its own distinct language, culture, and traditions, Catalonia was granted semi-autonomous rule by the Spanish government, never fully identifying with the Spanish national identity. But after the Spanish government cracked down on Catalonia following their October independence referendum, many have grown discontent with Madrid’s direct rule on the region. Though rule by the Spanish government formally ended in June, citizens lament the continued control over the region. This Monday, October 1st, marks the one year anniversary of the vote. Protesters organized by the Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) occupied high-speed railways and public squares to show support for Catalan Independence. According to the BBC, “Fresh Catalan elections in December 2017 returned a majority for pro-independence parties,” demonstrating the perseverance of Catalan voters to secure their independence.

The October 2017 referendum reflected 90% of voters supporting independence of the region. However, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled the vote as unconstitutional, resulting in eight months of government by officials in Madrid. After a new nationalist government was sworn into office in June, an opinion poll was conducted in July, demonstrating 46.7% of Catalans still support independence, while 44.9% opposed it. The discrepancy between October and July is a result of Spanish national police seizing ballot boxes and preventing voters from going to cast their vote.

The Spanish government is naturally concerned with independence of Catalonia. Its economy has an equivalent GDP to Portugal and contributes 1.4% of the European Union’s GDP, about $250 billion as of 2016. Though Catalonia has the economic means of a clean separation, intrusive Spanish political efforts to keep Catalonia as a Spanish territory will make Catalan secession difficult.