Catalonia represents one-fifth of Spain’s 1.1 trillion-euro economy and enjoys a great deal of self-government. However, on 1 October, the Catalan people are going to have a vote to choose whether want to be ruled independently from the rest of Spain. If the referendum is passed, they will be able to 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 at least 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 stand firm in their demand for a right to vote, the central government called in between 3,000 and 4,000 national police officers who are under orders to prevent the staging of the referendum.
On 20 September, 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.
These actions by the Spanish government have caused the people of Catalunya to organize peaceful protests against the current government and for their own right to vote independently.
Tensions are high in the city of Barcelona. Every night at 22:00, locals bang pots and pans together in what is called a cacerolada, a form of protest to unite the people together in solidarity.
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 Sunday, 1 October.