Catalonia, a wealthy region in the north of Spain with a population of 7.5 million, already has a separate language and culture to the rest of Spain, along with a high level of control over its own affairs. As a result, over the last five years, pressure for a referendum on succession has grown.
However, when the democratically-elected Catalan government decided to hold a referendum on the issue, it was struck down as ‘illegal’ by the Spanish Constitution Court in Madrid. Nonetheless, the Catalan government argued the referendum was their democratic right and pressed ahead with the vote.
The Spanish Prime Minster called the vote ‘a mockery of democracy’. He was right – but not the in the way he thought. The vote was a ‘mockery’ because people were violently attacked by the police and army while exercising their right to vote. How can Spain claim they are a democracy when they used such brutal force? Regardless of the referendum’s legality, you should never use force to stop people voting. That is when a state becomes a dictatorship.
Spain is in the midst of a full blown constitutional crisis and it is far from over. Whatever happens, the political landscape of Spain and Europe will be dramatically altered. We can only hope a resolution is agreed diplomatically and that the scenes of violence against the Catalonians will not be repeated.