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Τρίτη, 20 Μαρτίου 2018
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Voting in the Catalan Referendum Becomes an Act of Protest

“Votarem” or “we will vote” became a slogan, a hashtag, and an act of defiance in Catalonia on Sunday. However, it is hard to speak of a peaceful vote in Catalonia.

Rather than a protest vote, voting became a form of protest against the Spanish state, in the most violent clashes between citizens and the police in the region since the end of the Spanish dictatorship. Not all eligible voters did vote and the process is hardly uncontestable. Voting, counting, and the legitimacy of the result are all questioned. What appears to be a point of consensus is that Catalan society and Spanish democracy are not stronger as a result of Sunday’s election.

The Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont taled of “unjustified use of violence,” while Barcelona’s Mayor Ada Colau told the BBC that over 460 people have been injured during clashes with the police. El Pais reports 337 “scuffles” with authorities.

The Spanish Ministry of Interior said that there were also 12 police officers injured, while Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said that the response was professional and proportionate.

According to the Catalan News Agency, there was violence and used of “paramilitary force,” recording occasional clashes between regional and national police. The regional government claims that citizens would have been able to vote anywhere rather than their own polling stations alone and stands by “the result” of the referendum on Sunday.

However, given the “unconstitutional” nature of the vote, the violent clashes, and the confiscation of ballot boxes by the police, it will be hard to argue the case for a committing electoral result. According to El Pais, there were no official ballots or envelope, with some printed at home. The electoral census is hosted on online servers, there is no electoral board, and there is no counting system, peoples names and IDs were recorded by hand and were not checked against an online list. There were attempts to set up an online voting platform, but that was too disrupted.

The result itself is contestable, as the Spanish police confiscated 92 ballots, closed down the online infrastructure, and confiscated ballots. That is part of the reason why all international observers were unofficial. However, that does not appear to be much of a vindication for rule of law in Spain.


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