Catalonia’s unofficial referendum on independence

The case of Catalonia offers some interesting parallels and contrasts to the recent referendum on Scottish independence.  There seems to be significant, and growing, support for independence among Catalonians.  However the Guardian headline – ‘Catalans vow to push for independence as 80% vote in favour of split’ – is a little misleading.

Voters were asked for their response to two questions. The first was: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?”. If answered affirmatively, the ballot paper posed a second question: “Do you want that state to be independent?”.

Partial results showed 80.7% of the roughly two million people who took part in the vote voted yes to both questions while just over 10% voted yes for the first question and no for the second, Catalan vice president Joana Ortega told a news conference. About 4.5% voted no to both questions.

As commenters below the line were quick to point out, the apparent overwhelming support for independence is not an accurate reflection of Catalonian views – the unofficial poll was largely boycotted (or at least ignored) by those who want to remain Spanish.  But of course the poll was only non-binding (and thus ignorable) because the Spanish government has blocked an official referendum such as that which has just taken place in Scotland. I don’t find the arguments put forward here for independence very compelling – but, given the evident strength of feeling on the issue, there does seem at least a prima facie case for allowing the Catalonians a referendum.