Catalans flocked to the polls on Thursday for an election that could strip pro-independence parties of absolute control of the region’s parliament, though prospects of it ending the country’s worst political crisis in decades appear slim. Final surveys published last Friday showed separatists and unionists running neck-and-neck, though the same data suggests the pro-independence camp may still be able to form a minority government. That would keep national politics mired in turmoil and raise concerns in European capitals and financial markets. However, the secessionist campaign has lost some momentum since it unilaterally declared independence in October to trigger Thursday’s vote, and one of its leaders took a conciliatory tone towards Madrid in comments published this week.Full Article: Catalonia votes in election pivotal for independence campaign.
Articles about voting issues in the Kingdom of Spain.
The cops smiled a lot at first. The six plainclothes officers from Spain’s civil guard arrived in the morning at the Barcelona offices of Fundació PuntCat, the Internet registry that manages the .cat extension, popular in Spain’s Catalonia region. Employees were politely told to unlock their computers and step away. A search warrant would arrive soon. The mood darkened when a squad of riot police turned up, and executives learned that the police that morning had gone to the home of Josep “Pep” Masoliver, the group’s chief technology officer, and arrested him on charges that included perversion of justice. This was September 20, fewer than two weeks before voters in Catalonia were scheduled to decide whether the region should declare independence from Spain. Responding to the country’s worst political crisis in a generation, the Spanish government declared Catalonia’s referendum on self-determination illegal. Many elsewhere in Spain considered the vote treason.Full Article: How Spain is waging Internet war on Catalan separatists - The Parallax.
After Catalonia declared independence two months ago, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain took extraordinary control of the region and called elections, gambling that voters would punish the separatists who had propelled the nation’s worst constitutional crisis in decades. That election now comes Thursday, but far from solving the conflict, it could just as easily complicate the task of governing the first of Spain’s 19 regions to have its autonomy stripped, placing the country in uncharted political terrain. While Catalonia’s volatile politics have made predictions treacherous, polls indicate a potentially fractured result that may prolong the deadlock over the prosperous northeastern region’s status, even if it denies the separatists a victory.Full Article: Catalonia Votes Again, This Time in a Gamble to Stall Its Secessionists - The New York Times.
Catalonia votes on Thursday for a new administration in an election many hope will resolve Spain’s worst crisis in decades after the region declared independence leading Madrid to sack local leaders. Polls suggest neither the pro-independence nor the pro-unity camp will win a majority. The likely outcome is a hung parliament and many weeks of wrangling to form a new regional government. In the separatist heartland of rural Catalonia, fireman Josep Sales says he hopes the results will endorse the result of an Oct. 1 illegal referendum on independence from Spain and lead to the creation of a republic. “If we get a majority, something will have to be done. And if the politicians don’t do it, the people will unite,” he said, speaking from the town fire station where many of the red fire engines bear the slogan ‘Hello Democracy’.Full Article: Divided Catalans prepare to vote in close-run election.
When Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy forced an election in the rebel region of Catalonia, the aim was to halt the political chaos after a declaration of independence by separatists that reverberated across Europe. Instead, more upheaval looks set to emerge. It’s going to be tough to discern any real winner from the vote on Thursday following a campaign riddled with mutual suspicion and infighting. The final polls before a blackout period began on Dec. 16 showed the three parties pushing to break away from Spain may win the slimmest of majorities in the 135-seat parliament in Barcelona. The likelihood of securing more than 50 percent of the vote is more remote, though, as is an agreement on who might actually form a government.Full Article: Catalonia's Post-Crisis Election Looks Messy - Bloomberg.
A Spanish judge on Monday ordered the release on bail of six former government officials in Catalonia, but ruled that the former Catalan vice president and three other separatist leaders must remain in jail while prosecutors investigate them for their independence drive. If the six ex-officials, who had been cabinet members under former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, post the €100,000 ($118,950) bail ordered by the judge, they will be able to campaign in events ahead of the regional parliamentary elections that are scheduled for Dec. 21. The officials were jailed on Nov. 2 pending an investigation by state prosecutors on charges of sedition, rebellion and misappropriation of public funds for their sustained bid to split with Spain.Full Article: Judge Releases Six Catalan Separatists Ahead of Regional Election - WSJ.
Madrid believes Russian-based groups used online social media to heavily promote Catalonia’s independence referendum last month in an attempt to destabilize Spain, Spanish ministers said on Monday. Spain’s defense and foreign ministers said they had evidence that state and private-sector Russian groups, as well as groups in Venezuela, used Twitter, Facebook and other Internet sites to massively publicize the separatist cause and swing public opinion behind it in the run-up to the Oct. 1 referendum. Catalonia’s separatist leaders have denied that Russian interference helped them in the vote.Full Article: Spain sees Russian interference in Catalonia separatist vote.
Lacking the resources necessary to be able to achieve their objective of breaking away from Spain, pro-independence forces in Catalonia put their messages and fake news at the service of a pro-Russian meddling machine, which amplified them via thousands of profiles on the social networks with links to the Kremlin and Venezuelan chavismo, with the link of activists such as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. According to a number of studies about the social conversation on the internet, this conscious strategy convinced international public opinion, given that it received no kind of resistance on the part of the institutions of the Spanish state. Neither the government, nor the political parties nor public media outlets responded in an organized manner to the attack against them on social networks. One part of the evidence: according to an analysis carried out by George Washington University of the social conversation that took place in the days prior and subsequent to the referendum of October 1, two narratives were created. Some 78.2% of messages defended the independence of Catalonia and portrayed the Spanish state as repressive for encouraging police brutality. Meanwhile, 19.2% defended the legitimacy of the Spanish state to be able to stop the referendum from going ahead given that it was unconstitutional.Full Article: Russian interference in Spain: How the Russian meddling machine won the online battle of the illegal referendum | In English | EL PAÍS.
Spain: Will Catalonia’s separatists win in December? The voting system is stacked in their favor. | The Washington Post
Catalonia’s Oct. 27 unilateral declaration of independence from Spain has gained the region a lot of attention — perhaps more so than at any time since the Spanish Civil War. How did Catalonia end up declaring independence? Like the U.S. electoral college, Catalonia’s electoral system can turn a popular vote loser into a winner. In fact, the strong biases built into the Catalan electoral system elevated the crisis by inflating the secessionists’ parliamentary majority. And these same rules may perpetuate the crisis. After the declaration of independence, Spain’s central government used its powers under Article 155 of the constitution to take control of the regional government. Madrid called for fresh regional elections on Dec. 21. But Catalonia’s separatists may win a parliamentary majority again, even if they lose at the polls. The Catalan parliament is elected via proportional representation, which is commonly used around the world. Why did this “proportional” system lead to a surprise advantage for separatists? It’s all in the fine print.Full Article: Will Catalonia’s separatists win in December? The voting system is stacked in their favor. - The Washington Post.
Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont agreed on Tuesday to a snap election called by Spain’s central government when it took control of the region to stop it breaking away, but he said the fight for independence would go on. Spain’s High Court issued a summons for Puigdemont and 13 members of his sacked administration to testify in Madrid on Thursday and Friday as the court starts processing charges of rebellion, sedition and breach of trust against them. Under Spain’s legal system, a judge will then decide whether Puigdemont should go to jail pending a comprehensive investigation and potential trial.Full Article: Ousted Catalan leader agrees to election, summoned to Madrid court.
The deposed leaders of Catalonia’s separatist government have begun arriving at court in Madrid to face possible charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds over their roles in last week’s declaration of independence. Notable by his likely absence, however, is the dismissed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, who is in Brussels and refusing to come, according to his lawyer. “He will not go to Madrid and I have suggested that he be questioned here in Belgium,” Paul Bekaert told Spain’s TV3 television on Wednesday. The hearing at the national court in Madrid, which deals with major criminal cases, began at 9am and will continue on Friday.Full Article: Puigdemont absent as deposed Catalan leaders appear in court in Madrid | World news | The Guardian.
This month’s vote was a wake up call for Governments around the world, that in an age of technology, silencing the voice of democracy is easier said than done. The movement for independence in Catalonia is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the first political party to call for a split from the rest of Spain was founded back in the 1930’s, but in recent years, those calls have been growing in intensity. With a healthy majority in the Catalan parliament, nationalists acted with authority, if not authorisation, as they announced plans to hold a referendum on independence on October 1. Despite efforts to thwart the vote by the Spanish Government, Catalans went to the polls anyway in open defiance of what they perceived to be a Spanish attempt to deny them a democratic voice. Ballot papers were hidden away from the National Police and the Civil Guard, and normal citizens took to the streets around polling stations to defend ballot boxes from confiscation by the police.Full Article: How technology powered the Catalan referendum | openDemocracy.
In recent weeks, the dispute over Catalonia’s quest for independence from Spain has captivated the attention of many parts of the world. There is concern about further outbreaks of violence if the government in Madrid and the Catalonian independence movement cannot resolve their differences. This has led commentators to call for the European Union to step in and mediate. But such hopes are not well founded. The EU has neither the tools nor the will to tackle the separatist crisis in Spain. Here’s why. First, the conflict over Catalonia’s status comes at a less than ideal time for the EU. Officials in Brussels are consumed with thorny negotiations over the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, the continuing flow of migrants to Europe, and challenges to the rule of law in Poland and Hungary, to name just a few issues. There is crisis fatigue in the EU and limited enthusiasm for trying to put out another fire.Full Article: Why the European Union's hands are tied over Catalonia.
Spain: How Catalonia Pulled Off Independence Vote Using “Pizza” Code Words and Secret Schemes | The Intercept
I arrived at the polling station on the night before Catalonia was set to vote in a contested referendum on the region’s independence from Spain. A Spanish court had declared the referendum illegal, and Madrid had sent thousands of riot police to Catalonia to shut down the vote. By midnight, workers at the polling station closed the building’s corrugated metal gate and sealed us in until morning, or until the police arrived. Inside, we waited for whichever came first. The vote was organized in secret. The organizers spoke and texted in code: In this polling station — a community center in Barcelona, called Foment Martinenc — and others in the area, ballot boxes were called pizzas and the ballots, napkins. The government representative who officially opened the voting center was called “la pizzera” — the pizza maker. The organizers who drove from polling station to polling station, to make sure each center had enough pizza and napkins, were called Telepizzas, after a cheap pizza delivery chain. Central Barcelona was divided among five Telepizzas.Full Article: How Catalonia Pulled Off Its Independence Vote from Spain Using “Pizza” Code Words and Secret Schemes.
Spain’s prime minister on Wednesday asked the head of the secession-minded Catalonia region the question that no one can seem to answer: Did he declare independence or not? The query reflected more than just confusion. Clarity on Catalonia’s position is critical for Spain to map out its next move — including possible harsh measures against Catalonia if it proclaims itself a sovereign nation. The uncertainty comes after the region’s president, Carles Puigdemont, told the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona on Tuesday that Catalonia had the right to be an independent country, citing a disputed referendum last week that showed strong support for secession from Spain. But instead of an outright declaration, Puigdemont said the “effect” of independence would be delayed for several weeks to facilitate further dialogue with Madrid. He then signed a document that some perceived as formalizing a break from Spain, baffling observers in Barcelona and Madrid alike.Full Article: Spain asks Catalonia: Did you declare independence or not? - The Washington Post.
The leader of Catalonia has stopped short of declaring independence from Spain, calling instead for international mediation in a dispute that threatens to fracture Europe’s fifth-largest economy. Carles Puigdemont, in a speech on Tuesday to the breakaway region’s parliament in Barcelona, said the people of Catalonia had won the right to independence. The current relationship between Catalonia and the Spanish government is unsustainable, Puigdemont said. But the Catalan leader asked Calatonia’s parliament to suspend the effects of the region voting “yes” for independence and called for dialogue with the Spanish government. Puigdemont said it is worth exploring international mediation between Catalonia and Spain.Full Article: Leader of Catalonia asks parliament to suspend results of independence referendum.
Catalonia’s leader balked at making a formal declaration of independence from Spain on Tuesday, calling for talks with Madrid over the region’s future in a gesture that eased fears of immediate unrest in the heart of the euro zone. In a much-anticipated speech to the Catalan parliament, ringed by thousands of protesters and hundreds of armed police, Carles Puigdemont made only a symbolic declaration, claiming a mandate to launch secession but suspending any formal steps to that end. His remarks disappointed many of his supporters who had gathered outside, waving Catalan flags in the expectation that he would move a formal independence motion to the assembly. But the speech pleased financial markets, boosting the euro on hopes that his gesture would mark a de-escalation of Spain’s worst political crisis since an attempted military coup in 1981.Full Article: Catalonia baulks at formal independence declaration to allow talks.
Standing in front of his apartment across from barracks occupied by Spain’s national police, Xavi Gomez recounted the dueling protests over Catalonian independence that unfolded on his street the previous night. He talked about the secessionists who protested recent police violence by laying down flowers and the nationalists who chanted, “Long live Spain.” Then, as he noticed three officers walking out of a gate and under an iron arch with the words “All for the Homeland,” he went quiet. “You see how they are looking at me?” said Mr. Gomez, 30, as one officer gave him a hard glare and walked away. Out of earshot, he said he suspected the “monsters” were the first wave of shock troops “coming to take over Catalonia.” “For this reason,” he said, “Sant Boi doesn’t want these people.”Full Article: In Catalonia Independence Push, Policing Becomes Politicized - The New York Times.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Barcelona to protest against the Catalan government’s decision to push for independence, as Spain’s prime minister warned that he was prepared to suspend the region’s autonomy to stop it splitting from the rest of the country. Sunday’s rally – organised by Societat Civil Catalana, the region’s main pro-unity organisation – comes a week after the independence referendum that has plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in four decades. The march, whose slogan is “Let’s recover our common sense”, was intended to call for a new phase of dialogue with the rest of Spain and featured such luminaries as the Nobel-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa and Josep Borrell, former president of the European parliament. Societat Civil Catalana said more than 1 million people had taken part, but Barcelona police put the turnout at 350,000.Full Article: Catalonia: hundreds of thousands join anti-independence rally in Barcelona | World news | The Guardian.
Voting rights have been under siege in the U.S. in recent years, with charges of attempted electoral interference, legislation that seeks to make access to the polls more difficult, and gerrymandering, in a case that reached the Supreme Court this week. But no citizens here or in any democracy expect that they may be attacked by the police if they try to vote. Yet that is what happened on Sunday in the Spanish region of Catalonia, where thousands of members of the Guardia Civil paramilitary force, and riot police, were deployed by the central government in Madrid to prevent the Catalans from holding an “illegal” referendum on independence from Spain. Masked and helmeted police used pepper spray and knocked people to the ground, kicking and beating some, and dragging others by their hair. Social-media sites quickly filled with images of bloodied and battered voters. Whatever the avowed legality of the action, it was not only a shocking display of official violence employed against mostly peaceful and unarmed civilians but an extraordinary expression of cognitive dissonance: since when did European governments prevent their citizens from voting?Full Article: The Increasingly Tense Standoff Over Catalonia’s Independence Referendum | The New Yorker.