Catalonia, a region of Spain that has been seeking its independence since 1922, has seen an increase of push for the movement’s success in recent history, along with increased backlash from the Spanish government in an attempt to suppress Catalonian nationalism. This modern independence movement began in 2006 when the Spanish government attempted to overturn portions of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, which defines the rights of the citizens of Catalonia. In the years following, 550 municipalities in Catalonia held referendums of independence, in which the results showed in favour of independence. Protest demonstrations for the movement have seen utmost of one million people, showing that independence is an extremely important value held by the Catalonian people. Referendums have been held in an attempt to vote on this divide in 2014 and 2017, all resulting in a nearly unanimous vote in favour of independence. Yet in the years following the initial rekindling of the movement in 2006, no legislative progress has been made through these efforts, due to the Spanish government’s strong disapproval.
In the 2017 referendum, which is both the most recent and powerful attempt Catalonia has made in achieving independence, Catalonian government members declared that they would hold a vote regarding the issue with or without the support of the Spanish government. Through the referendum, the national government went as far as to shut down pro-independence websites, and demanded Google remove a voting location finder app from its app store. To pressure Catalonian people into not voting, the national government seized ballot papers and threatened those manning poll stations with hefty fines. Despite these setbacks, the referendum was held on October 1st, 2017.
The results of the referendum showed Catalonia their independence, while chaos erupted throughout. In late October, Madrid, the country’s capital, stripped Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont from his position in office. This decision will also see the removal of 150 ministers from the region, although some have vowed to continue their work. Currently, Catalonia is under control of Madrid until a new president and respective officials are elected. This election will take place on December 21st, 2017.