The right to vote is one of the most prized rights in any democracy. All the other rights are more or less a direct consequence of the opportunity that citizens are granted to express their opinion on important subjects through their votes. In Catalonia there is a broad majority of citizens who want to vote and decide the political future of this territory in terms of it remaining a part of Spain or becoming an independent state. For this reason, on November 9th, 2,305,290 people voted in a singular and exemplary participatory process. It was singular because it took place despite the clear opposition of the Spanish government. It was also singular because it took place in the midst of a professional cyber-attack with clear political intentions, which also placed at risk the basic services provided to citizens by the Catalan government. And singular because the Spanish government tried by every means possible to scare citizens away from voting with legal threats.
But the vote was exemplary because more than 2.3 million people were not afraid and despite threats they still went to vote in numbers similar to voter turnout for the recent elections for the European Parliament, which were organised without any obstacles and with full official backing. Everyone over 16 and resident in Catalonia was invited to give their opinion. With a vote, as is done around the world. It was exemplary because people went to vote with a smile on their face and emotion in their eyes, whether they were 90-year-old grandparents who lived through the Spanish civil war, or young people who only with great effort remember who the dictator Franco was. It was exemplary because it was another peaceful mass mobilisation, like few others one could find around the world. In their final statement an international delegation of parliamentary observers affirmed that “the vote was conducted successfully in challenging circumstances”.