Catalans wrap up symbolic independence votes

10th April 2011, Comments 4 comments

A final round of symbolic referendums took place Sunday in 21 towns and cities of Catalonia, including the capital Barcelona, on whether the wealthy region should secede from Spain.

As of midday 96,526 people, or 8.27 percent of eligible voters, had cast their ballots in the referendums, which have no legal significance, organisers said in a statement.

Around 3,000 volunteers were staffing 347 polling stations set up in the 21 localities holding referendums on Sunday.

Over 500 towns and villages have staged similar referendums since September 2009 in four previous rounds of voting staged by local associations that back secession for Catalonia with the support of some political parties.

Turnout has been low and largely limited to separatists, with the results overwhelmingly in favour of Catalonia splitting from Spain.

Organisers hope the symbolic referendums will bolster the case for a binding, region-wide secession vote.

Spain's central government argues that under the constitution only it has the authority to call a referendum.

In 2008 it blocked a bid by the regional government of the northern Basque Country to hold its own referendum on secession from Spain.

Catalonia is home to around seven million of Spain's population of some 47 million, and accounts for 25 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

© 2011 AFP

4 Comments To This Article

  • Poppycock posted:

    on 13th April 2011, 21:45:30 - Reply

    A big part of the rationale for many separatists is the perceived, and as far as I can tell, real fact that, compared to other regions in Spain, Catalonia pays more taxes and gets less in return. Nobody's really mentioned this so far, but it's a huge motivation for many of the separatists.

    Perhaps if Catalonia got a fair return on the tributes it pays to Madrid, there'd be fewer calling for independence.
  • Guiri posted:

    on 11th April 2011, 10:00:24 - Reply

    Most Catalans are happy to be a part of Spain and do not wish for independence. Catalan society is relatively high context and group-minded, allowing for the vocal minority to set the tone. The silent majority disagrees but doesn't want to seem "like a bad Catalan", as dissenters have been labelled by independentistas and therefore prefer to remain quiet. This whole idea of being "afraid to vote" is pure poppycock. Independentistas want to keep the Franco-era bogeyman alive so they can justify their fear-mongering. Hence the article on the Falange in todays La Vanguardia. The Falange!!! This is pure demagoguery. It would be laughable if it weren't so sickening. Thank god we have a democracy in Cataluña! Let's hope the independentistas respect the vote. Eh ¡basta ya! BTW, many independentistas like to say they want Cataluña to be an independent state like Denmark. Have they seen the level of taxes in Denmark? 48% as compared with 33% in Spain. Catalans don't want to pay higher taxes in order to fund some fictitious utopian paradise being projected by independentista politicians who just want more power for themselves. It costs a lot to run a small, modern, independent nation with only 7-8m ppl. Military, diplomatic and federal government costs that are now shared by 47m would have to be shared by only 7-8m. Cataluña would be a net-payer into the EU and would have to pay to the UN and NATO. But I don't hear independentistas saying anything about this!
  • sieg posted:

    on 10th April 2011, 19:47:20 - Reply

    I am really sorry to disagree with you Paco. Most of the Catalan society is craving for indepence but several attack's from the central goverment and media have criminalised the fact of going to vote (anti-constitutionalism). Many people willing to do so, is afraid to vote, the critisism and agressive environment within the divided catalan society doesn't help. Therefore given that the referendum is just symbolic many families pro-indepence and even the minority against-independence did not go to vote.
    Also, accounting to the fact that is just a symbolic referendum a figure of about 15 to 18% is not bad at all (keep in mind that the figures will be above 90% pro-independence). And I am sure given an actual scenario with real legal and political consequences the participation would be much higher.
    However, I am not here to defend or not the point of make a referendum on these circumstances. What the international opinion should wonder is why is that difficult for a completely democratic country as Spain to held a referendum regarding the indepence of one of its historic departments?
    I still remember the indepence of several baltic countries within the context of the soviet union by referendum and all the western world clapped at it. But now, the Spanish goverment try to even boicot a query to its citizens and the EU or other institutions do not even complain.
  • paco posted:

    on 10th April 2011, 19:00:05 - Reply

    In the best cases scenario for separatists just 15 to 18% of Barcelona population will vote ( counting foreigners and 16 years old, who in any legal referendum are out of count). That would mean that around 80% of the population in Barcelona either do not care or are against independence. So think twice when saying that all catalans are pro-independence. Those who are make a lot of noise, but are a minority.