Dear Commons Community,
As reported by Reuters, the Associated Press, and other media.
Spanish riot police descended on polling stations in Catalonia yesterday, as the region held a referendum on its independence from Spain.
The referendum saw police use rubber bullets and batons in their operation to seize ballot boxes and shutter voting sites. At least 800 people were injured in the crackdown, according to the Catalan regional government.
The shocking scenes of unrest and violent tactics of the police brought international attention to Catalonia, with the subsequent chaos from the actions to stop the referendum giving additional weight to the symbolic independence vote.
The violence threatens to deepen the longstanding divisions between Catalan separatists and the Spanish government, putting pressure on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and ensuring that the issue of independence will only become more prominent in the days to come.
When I visited Barcelona in 2015, it was evident that there was deep resentment among Catalonians to the national government. I wrote then:
“Catalans will be going to the polls for local elections for the Parliament of Catalonia. Which parties win will have an important effect on Barcelona’s future. There is a strong push for separation from the rest of Spain and one does not spend a day in Barcelona and its countryside without seeing the separatist flag and hearing the Catalan language which sounds more Italian or Portuguese than Spanish. “