Catalonia represents 1/5 of Spain’s 1.1 trillion (euro) or $1.32 trillion economy and enjoys a lot of self-government. However, on October 1st, the Catalan people are going to have a vote to choose if they want to be ruled independently from the rest of Spain. If the referendum is passed, they can vote on their own laws and government.
According to polls, less than half of Catalonia’s 5.5 million voters want self-rule, although most of the wealthy want the chance to vote on the issue.
The constitutional court of Spain ruled that any referendum on independence is illegal, however, the Catalan parliament plans to declare independence within the first 48 hours of a Yes vote.
Because the Catalan people will not back down from demanding a right to vote, the central government called in 3,000-4,000 National police officers, who are under orders to prevent the staging of the referendum.
On September 20th, 14 Catalan government officials were arrested because they were involved in organizing the vote. And it didn’t stop with arrests. Electoral materials were seized from millions of ballot papers to hundreds of ballot boxes.
The poor treatment by the Spanish government has caused the Catalan people to organize peaceful protests against the current government and for their own right to vote independently.
Tensions are high in the city of Barcelona, especially in the wake of the terrorist attack on August 17th. Because of this, every night at 10:00 pm, you can hear pots and pans banging together in what is called a cacerolada. It is a form of protest to unite the people together in solidarity.
Some residents don’t understand why police have been called in and call it “police occupation,” when the protests have all been peaceful, and the police presence has caused more unease in the city. The central government justifies their actions by saying that any act of protest is considered an act of sedition.
The President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, told the separatists to resist the provocations of the central government and remain peaceful. If things become violent, they will have more reason to stop the vote.
Although Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariana Rajoy, demands that the Catalan officials stop their “disobedience”, the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, says that the vote will continue as planned on October 1st.