Backfire: Stunning Majority Vote ‘Yes’ in Catalonia

Backfire: Stunning Majority Vote ‘Yes’ in Catalonia
Catalans took to the streets Monday in Barcelona to celebrate their independence referendum.

Despite the Spanish government’s refusal to accept the results, and nearly 900 wounded by police violence, a stunning majority reported to be 90 percent of those who voted cast “yes” votes in the Catalonia independence referendum.

Sunday, Civil Guard soldiers were seen dragging would-be voters out of polling sites and firing rubber bullets at rioting Catalans. The violence drew nearly unanimous international condemnation.

Turnout was roughly 42 percent, according to regional officials. The Spanish government’s crackdown seemed to backfire, forcing those who planned to vote “no” to stay home, driving the results toward a crushing “yes” victory that gave the separatists a tremendous public relations victory.

The Spanish Constitutional Court had ordered the referendum not be held, as it was in violation of the 1978 constitution that states Spain cannot be split up. The government in Madrid insisted it would not recognize the result.

Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont held a press conference Monday and said that the results are binding. 

"It is not a domestic matter. It’s obvious that we need mediation."

He urged Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to say whether he was in favor of mediation in talks over the region's future, which he said should be overseen by the European Union. He added that the EU has been “timid” and “lacked courage” regarding this matter.

The European Commission issued the following statement:

We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. Violence can never be an instrument in politics.

Also Monday, Spain’s justice minister, Rafael Catala, said Madrid could use its constitutional power to suspend Catalan's existing autonomy if the regional government declared independence. 

"We will use the entire force of the law. Our obligation is to resolve problems and we'll do it, even though using certain measures might hurt."

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