The Catalonian referendum has been boycotted by Spanish authorities as voters took to polling booths this Sunday. The referendum was held in Barcelona to further Catalonia’s efforts to gain independence.
Catalonia’s regional government estimates that over 800 people have been injured during the voting. Polling booths were boycotted by opponents as per instructions from the Spanish government. Voters were beaten, shot at with rubber bullets, and ballot boxes seized.
The Spanish government has called the referendum vote illegitimate, and has claimed this as a justifiable means for the violence. Despite the rejection from the Spanish government, over three million people voted in the poll. Catalan authorities say that 2.2 million votes have been counted and 90 percent are in favour of independence.
With hundreds of people marred by violence, the current political climate plummets Spain country into both a constitutional and political crisis. The violent outbreaks also stress the tension which is continuously exacerbated within the country.
In attempt to ebb the vote, additional security forces were sent to Catalonia (Barcelona) from Madrid which escalated the violence further. Some voters, who were previously resolved to vote “no” to independence, have now changed their votes in light of the violence. Thus, Spanish authorities have only furthered the Catalonian government’s cause.
In a televised address, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont stated “Catalonia’s citizens have earned the right to have an independent state in the form of a republic.”
The Catalan government intends to send the results of the voting to the European Union in the next few days, in attempt to pave the way for Catalonia’s independence.
Over 2000 voting booths were placed across the region, and Spanish authorities have claimed to destroying 350 of them. The Catalan government claims the Spanish national police were able to close down less than 10 perfect of polling stations. Prior to the violence, Spanish police also confiscated nine million voting ballots before Sunday.
Catalans formed human shields in front of polling booths in defiance where many had camped out overnight. Some would-be voters fought police authorities and were taken away in ambulances.
The referendum poll further stresses how independence is essential to Catalan identity, and the excessive measures taken against those who support it.