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Protests Grow Amid Catalan Referendum

Image credit/Reuters

People celebrate in Catalunya's square after the Catalonia independence referendum '1-O Referendum' in Barcelona, Spain.

Posted: October 5, 2017 at 9:23 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Spanish government has suspended Monday’s Catalan parliamentary session amid expectations that Catalan would declare independence from Spain. Spain’s constitutional court stated that such a declaration would be a “breach of the constitution.” This comes just one day after King Felipe accused secessionists of “breaking democratic principles.” King Felipe further said of secessionists: “They have shown contempt for the affection and feelings of solidarity which have united and will unite all Spaniards’.”

Tensions between the Catalan parliament and Spanish government have grown in recent days. Sunday saw the citizens of Catalonia overwhelmingly vote for independence from Spain. Catalan citizens and the national police violently clashed after the vote. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has said that the government planned to declare independence “in a matter of days.”

The referendum drew an estimated 2.2 million voters, 42 percent of the electorate, and was overwhelmingly passed with 90 percent of the vote. Before the vote, Madrid said that the referendum was illegal. To compound this, as the results were announced Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stated that there had “been no vote.” The lawyers who represented the region’s parliament had also warned that the vote was technically illegal, as Spain’s constitutional court had previously suspended the vote.

Protests continue in Catalonia, not only for independence but also to protest police violence used on Sunday. The police used violent methods to shut down polling stations across the region after the government had called the vote illegal. Thousands have since taken to the streets of Catalonia, to protest the police violence. The violence has led to regionwide strikes in which schools, shops, and businesses were shut by the Catalan government.

The protests were largely peaceful, although some protesters did force shopkeepers and business owners to close if they had not already done so. Spain’s Interior Minister, however, accused the Catalan Government of “inciting rebellion” by encouraging the protests. “Day after day, the Catalan government is pushing the population to the abyss and inciting rebellion in the streets,” Juan Ignacio Zoido said, adding that central government will take measures to “stop the acts of harassment”.


People Rally in Catalunya’s square after the Catalonia Referendum

The European Parliament, which had previously remained silent on the issue, has confirmed it will hold a special debate on Wednesday. King Felipe has also indicated that he will give a speech on the matter.

Many protesters chanted “Independence while wrapped in Senyeras and Esteladas, which are variations of the Catalan flag, the latter representing a pro-independence feeling. Others carried signs that read “EU: You can’t can’t ignore this”, “We want democracy”, and “No more violence”. However, not all were protesting for independence. Many were indifferent even wearing the Spanish flag. Many were just showing their displeasure in the violent tactics of the national police.

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