It had happened three years ago, but then it was a simple informal consultation without any practical consequences on the country’s future. Today is likely to mark a date not to return to the history of Spain and beyond. On October 1 will be held in Catalonia for Catalan independence referendum: a vote deemed unconstitutional by the Madrid government and that is already tearing the unity and democratic Iberian held even before they open the ballot boxes. In recent weeks, the Spanish Civil Guard raided a number of government offices in Barcelona sequestering material useful for Sunday’s referendum and arrested 14 executives Catalan close to the administration, including Josep Maria Jovè, the right arm of the vice president of Catalonia. The police also entered the Economic Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Presidency of the regional executive. The agents seized about 10 million electoral cards.
The Civil Guard’s actions triggered protests in the streets of hundreds of demonstrators defending the Catalan government and the referendum against the Spanish “occupation forces” contested by banners and choirs. And on twitter, the Catalan government has increased its dose: “Citizens are called on October 1 to defend democracy from a repressive and intimidating regime.”
But Iberian Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy defended his government’s measures: “We are protecting the rights of the Spanish, the magistrate has voted against the referendum, as democracy is the duty to enforce the sentence.” And from Brussels, the European Union has stood beside Madrid: “We respect the constitutional order of Spain as is the case with every constitution of the Member States”, was the thought expressed by Margaritis Schinas, spokeswoman of the European Commission.
However, there is more, as the Spanish General Prosecutor has moved to prevent the Sunday vote from being taken seriously. The magistrates have in fact ordered the Catalan police to identify all heads of public offices (such as school leaders) involved in various degrees in voting operations and have also decided to seal the polls for the referendum urns. In addition, nearly 10 million electoral cards have been seized, although it is still unclear where the polls are now. According to El Pais they are located outside Catalonia, according to a Catalan leader they are in Barcelona.
In any case, as the Spanish President Carlos Puigdemont argued, the referendum will also be valid even without reaching the quorum, so there will be no need for a minimum number of voters. At this point, the pre and post referendum scenarios are overwhelming: you do not know if you will vote, how you will vote and what will happen next.
Catalan self-determination is a theme that has been dragging for decades in Spanish history, although Catalonia has its hymn, its language and its flag. The origin of independence has a precise date, on September 11, 1714: during the secession war, the Catalan army of Barcelona was defeated by the Bourbons after 14 months of siege. From that date, that day became the national holiday of the Catalan community (“The Diada Nacional de Catalunya”, “The National Day of Catalonia”) and during the matches of Barcelona at the Camp Nou at 17.14 minutes from the booths hang up and scream in favor of autonomy. During the twentieth century, during the franchism, any reference to Catalan independence was abolished and only in 1979 Catalonia was recognized as autonomous Community of Spain.
In recent years popular popularization towards a separation from Madrid has grown more and more, reaching 50.6% according to a 2013 poll. It is enough to think that during Barcelona’s Juventus on 12 September, two banners appeared on the stadium’s stands unambiguous: “SOS democracia!” and “Welcome to the Catalan Republic”.
“Mès que un club”, says the slogan of the fans of Barça. Sunday could be said “Més que un referendum”.