To vote is normal in a normal country says the sugar accompanying my coffee.
This week – the 9th November – a majority of Catalans will cast their votes. They will answer two questions:
“Do you want Catalonia to be a State?
If so, do you want Catalonia to be an independent State?”
The turnout will be relatively low expected at around 55% – nowhere near the dizzying 86% turnout in the Scottish referendum – but there will be a majority of voters saying yes to both questions. However no matter the result it will carry as much water as an old fishing net. It’s more of an opinion poll than an election: it’s a ghost referendum.
This vote will be opposed as much as the original “formal” vote was by the Spanish Government ensuring that it will be ridiculed in the Spanish media and discounted by the establishment press across the globe. Maybe Catalans spoke but no one was listening.
It is a great shame that it has come to this. There was so much hope – buoyed by the momentum in the #indyref – that a true plebacite would go ahead with a weight that forced the hand of the establishment. But it hasn’t quite turned out that way. Sounds familiar doesn’t Scotland?
Artur Mas the head of the Generalitat thinks it’s still worth having some kind of vote. This watered down version won’t cost that much – everything was in place for the official vote – and it will be run by volunteers, so I am sure he is right but not everyone agrees with Artur: not even those who favour independence.
Whatever the internal wrangling within the Yes campaign a Yes vote will increase the conversation nationally about the situation of Catalunya and other “states” within Spanish. Anything that demonstrates that there is a desire for more localised decision making has to be good for the democratic process across Europe. This vote on the back of the large Yes vote in Scotland will keep the momentum going.
Maybe the vote in Catalunya will unite the independence parties – although they argue like teenagers – to form a united and consistent front that can represent a majority in Catlaunya. It’s a small hope for something that had such high hopes.
It would be unfair to say the independence movement failed before it was out of the starting gate because the result isn’t where the victory lies: it is post vote and what the pro independence parties do next. And here the similarity with the Scottish referendum is striking. November is a big month in these two nation states. 2015 is a massive, gigantic year!