Well, it’s come and gone, and I can’t quite say where it’ll go from here. It seems like little was settled, as both sides will not budge when it comes to admitting victory or defeat. If anything, it’ll go on…and on…and on.
Yesterday, Sunday, November 9, the Catalonians held a straw poll, which is a kind of makeshift unofficial referendum on whether or not the majority from the region wants to become independent, as the minority from the region have so arduously desired. It was an act of defiance since the national government and the judicial branch had previously struck down Catalonia’s request to call on the will of the people to determine its future. The hope to become a sovereign nation has been alive for decades, and the roots go back centuries, not unlike Scotland’s dilemma, but it has come on stronger over the past decade for reasons not easily summarized in so few lines. Now those wanting to break away feel they have the right numbers to put it to the people, but Madrid keeps saying, “Uh, I don’t see this referendum thing happening.”
While it’s understandable that the national government should want to put off the inevitable, the problem is it only aggravates the issue and it doesn’t make Spain look very good. The United Kingdom established a peaceful and orderly referendum with the Scots, as did Canada with Quebec, to nationalist movements which failed, by the way. Why can’t Spain do the same.
So the pro-independence groups organized its now famous “consulta” and beckoned Catalans from home and abroad to put in their two cents. The answers were short and sweet: “Yes” or “No”. They did so in the name of democracy, calling it a show of civil disobedience for a just cause. They even alluded to Martin Luther King Jr. The national government called it a sham.
Finally the numbers came in, with some 2,300,000 voters showing up at the polls, with about 80% demanding independence. The international press has embraced these numbers as indicative of Catalonia’s overwhelming support for the initiative, but the stats belie reality. The numbers that showed up only constituted about 35% of all potential voters, and if you remove the nay-sayers, then the independentistas only managed to muster up about 28% of the vote.
If you take into account that the straw poll was promoted heavily by the Catalonian independence movement and it was supposed to their chance to corner the Madrid government into giving up more control to them, in my humble opinion, it didn’t do a very good job. About two-thirds of the voters clearly didn’t see the necessity to cast a vote, and would have expected a higher turnout from those citizens if they were so adament about seeing secession through. In short, from what I can tell, the numbers are there. I think they are higher then 28%, but probably still a far cry from the needed 51%.
If the Spanish government had any skill with this issue, they would hold a real referendum as soon as possible, while they apparently have the vote on their side. But I don’t see that happening either.
Oh well. Time to start the week.