Catalonia Referendum: Yes to Independence, Yes to Chaos
In previous opinion polling, 49.9% of Catalans wanted to remain under Spain while 41.1% wanted autonomy. Yet as Catalonia independence referendum comes to a conclusion, the polls indicate that 90% of the 2.26 million Catalans that voted want independence from Spain.
Despite the polling statistics, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared that no referendum had occurred and deemed it illegal. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stated, "At this time I can tell you, with full clarity, what you all know and what we have seen today. Today, we have not had a referendum for self-determination in Catalonia.”
Before and during the referendum, the Spanish government was met with much opposition. During voting, the Spanish government unleashed police forces in an attempt to disrupt the referendum. Peaceful voting turned into chaos when riot police attacked unarmed civilians and protestors, destroying ballots. In the day and hours following voting, over 840 people have needed medical assistance.
Despite the disruption and brutality, Spanish officials praised the police forces. Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, commented, “The absolute irresponsibility of the Catalan government had to be compensated for by the professionalism of the Spanish security forces. They’ve complied with the orders of justice. They’ve acted with professionalism and in a proportionate way. They always sought to protect rights and liberties.”
It remains unclear what will happen to Catalonia and what actions the Spanish government intends to make going forward. What is clear is that the Spanish government has no intention of granting Catalonia independence from Spain.