A king and his army are trying to crush democracy. In Europe. In the 21st century. [TWEETS]

Catalans celebrate referendum result
Support us and go ad-free

On 1 October, a Catalonian referendum for independence took place in Spain. But Madrid responded with violence. And there is even a report [Spanish] that the Spanish government has deployed the army to Catalonia. Although you would think, given the response of Spain’s monarch King Felipe VI the day after the referendum, that it was Catalans who had crossed the line.

The King’s speech

Felipe’s speech was notable not just for what he said, but what he didn’t say. He began by saying:

We are living through very grave moments for our democratic life…

But that was not a reference to the use of force by the Guardia Civil (the paramilitary national police) to thwart Catalonia’s democratic process by seizing ballot papers and ballot boxes. Indeed, not once did he condemn that violence, which reportedly saw around 761 men, women and children injured by the Guardia Civil.

Indeed, there was much violence, but also courage:

https://twitter.com/Berlustinho/status/914886979812196352

Nor did the king reference the pro-referendum websites taken down on the orders of the Spanish state.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Nor did he mention how people had to be protected from state sanctioned violence by Catalan firefighters:

But there was also, apparently, an implicit threat in the king’s speech:

faced with this situation of extreme gravity…, it is the responsibility of the legitimate powers of the state to ensure constitutional order and the normal functioning of our institutions, the validity of the state of law and self-government in Catalonia, based on the Constitution and its Statute of Autonomy.

This might explain why the Spanish army is reportedly being sent [Spanish] to Catalonia.

Streets occupied

Meanwhile, on 3 October, Catalonia came to a standstill as a general strike, supported by nearly all the union federations, took hold. And possibly over a million Catalans took to the streets in Barcelona and other cities to affirm the independence referendum result.

On the first day of the general strike, Barcelona had probably its largest rally ever, with thousands occupying the streets in all directions:

Real democracy?

In Catalonia, democracy is not just about votes or government. It’s also about consensus between people on the street, in neighbourhoods, workplaces, and community centres. On the eve of the general strike, for example, people met to organise what would happen:

As journalist Paul Mason, who was present, observed:

What I saw in El Clot, and in the other districts, corresponds so closely to the original Athenian form of democracy that the parallel is worth exploring… In Catalonia on Sunday I saw something like a true demotic participation – and that should make the world, and the EU, think twice before dismissing the whole thing as a nationalist stunt.

Referendum result

According to El Periodico, the referendum saw [Spanish] around 43% of the voting population take part. And just under 90% (2,020,144 people) voted in favour of independence. 7.8% (176.566 people) voted against.

The official count from the Catalan government was:

The turnout would have likely been greater had the Guardia Civil not acted in the way it did.

Declaration of independence

On the evening of the referendum, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont issued a statement. He made it clear what the next stage in the referendum process would be:

The government that I preside over will present today’s results to the Parliament of Catalonia, where the sovereignty of our people resides, so it can proceed in accordance with the Referendum law.

And unlike King Felipe’s speech, Puigdemont’s statement made direct reference to the violence and who was behind it, speaking of:

the unjustified, abusive and severe police violence committed by the Spanish government… [and] the brutal repression unleashed by the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy…

Later, Puigdemont clarified that the independence declaration would be issued either at the weekend, or early the following week.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. But the fact that the Spanish government is reportedly sending in the army is ominous. And Europe needs to speak up for democracy before it’s too late.

Get Involved!

– Read more about Spain and Catalonia at The Canary Global. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more independent global coverage.

Featured image via screengrab

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed