Catalonia is trying to have one (had one as you read this) on whether the Autonomous Community should completely separate from Spain. It’s turning violent as the Spanish military organization with police duties, the Guardia Civil, and the more civilian Policía Nacional, are using hammers and other such tools to break into locked buildings within which voting is occurring and truncheons and rubber bullets to try to block Catalans from entering and voting.
Nearly 850 civilian casualties had been inflicted by late Sunday, Dallas time.
This is counterproductive. Like the Quebecois separation referenda, Madrid should let the Catalan referendum go forward without interference. Most Catalans want the referendum, and most would vote to stay in Spain.
That vote would defuse the separation movement for a good long time.
The violent suppression is not going to work in the long run.
As Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is putting it,
The unjustified, unchecked, irresponsible violence by the Spanish state today didn’t just fail to stop Catalans’ will to peacefully and democratically vote….” It also made clear “what is at stake for us.”
It’s true enough that Puigdemont is playing politics with his characterization, but the characterization itself and its outcome isn’t far wrong. Marc Quintana, a 34-year-old carpenter who was forcibly removed by police in Sant Julià before he could vote:
The only thing this will do is make those undecided people vote “yes” to independence[.]
It’s also true that the referendum is illegal under Spanish law. However, if Madrid really thought it needed to arrest the referendum leaders, they could do that a lot more easily after a failed referendum.