Following a controversial independence referendum earlier this month, the Catalonian regional parliament declared independence from Spain. They requested that the Spanish government transfer legal powers to Catalonia so the region may become an independent country.
The problem is, not only is that declaration of independence inherently unconstitutional, it follows a referendum that was flawed before Spanish police forces ever interfered. In response, the Spanish government has invoked a never before used clause in their constitution to impose “direct rule”.
In short, there are three major problems with the Catalonian declaration of independence that will prevent it from being recognized.
First of all, the Catalonian independence referendum is a biased sample, and not representative of actual sentiment
Media outlets from around the world reported that Catalonia voted for independence overwhelmingly. Many went so far as to report the percentage itself, 90%, had voted for to make the region of Spain an independent country.
The problem is, few reported on a major qualification of that result. The problem with that number is that it doesn’t truly represent the population of the region. This is because those who opposed Catalonian independence boycotted the vote.
The results that were reported worldwide only represented about 43 percent of the population. Therefore, when the 90 percent in favor is applied, the true percentage that voted for independence is really only 38.7 percent. That’s far lower than a glance at the headlines reveals.
That figure is much closer to what has been recorded by pollsters. The most recent polls, taken during the summer of 2017, found that support for Catalonian independence had actually dropped to 41 percent from 44 percent during the spring. Those against independence made up 49 percent.
The Catalonian parliament vote represents the same biased result
After the Spanish government rightly declared the Catalonian independence referendum void, the regional parliament responded that it would take action. That came in the passing of a resolution that called for the transfer of all legal powers to a newly independent state of Catalonia.
Once again, many media outlets rushed to report on what at first sounded like a landslide result. Many headlines featured the vote total of seventy Senators in favor to only ten who voted against.
Although, and in line with their previous reporting, the actual results were buried. In line with the independence referendum, those opposed had previously announced a boycott. Of the 135 representatives in the chamber, fifty chose to to participate.
While seventy votes still represents a majority, it is a slim one, and not near the seven to one margin that the mainstream media is focusing on.
The Spanish Constitution specifically bars independence of regions, and allows the national government to intervene
The Spanish Constitution is quite different from that of other countries. One major area concerns the right of the seventeen autonomous regions to declare independence – there isn’t one.
In fact, there is a never before used provision that allows the national government to assume what is called direct control in such an occasion. The Spanish Congress recently voted to invoke Article 155 which will disband the Catalonian cabinet and all of its ministers. In addition, the legislative powers granted to the parliament will be severely curtailed.
The vote passed the Spanish Senate shortly after the Catalonian parliament voted for independence. The measure took effect immediately and will soon result in the national government of Spain will taking over control of Catalonia.
Following the news, both the European Union and United States voiced support for the Spanish government and its right to impose direct rule. No other country has sided with Catalonia.
In sum, although multiple media outlets have frequently misreported the facts surrounding the support for Catalonian independence, and the illegal actions taken to achieve it, the region is and will remain part of Spain for the foreseeable future.
(Photo of pro-Spanish unity protesters via Facebook.)