by Eric Guntermann
On Sunday, November 9, more than two million citizens in Catalonia went to the polls in a “participatory process on the future of their region.” The result was 81 per cent support for independence of this relatively wealthy region in the northeast of Spain, most of whose 7.5 million people speak Catalan, a language different from Spanish. Given the informality of the process, it is hard to be precise on the proportion of potential voters who took part, but it was less than 50 per cent (68 per cent voted in the last Catalan election).
After failing to get the Spanish government to a agree to a full-blown referendum, the Catalan government decided to hold a “non-referendum consultation,” which the central government referred to the Constitutional Court, thus automatically suspending it for five months. In response, the Catalan government decided to ask citizens to vote instead in an informal process run mostly by volunteers. The central government similarly got this process suspended by the top court. Nevertheless, the Catalan government went ahead with the vote. As a result, the debate in Catalonia focused essentially on Catalans’ right to decide their future and not on independence per se.