4 Oct 2017

My (biased) view on the Catalan referendum

Let’s clarify first that I am against a unilateral declaration of independence, and I would rather prefer to do regional elections in Catalonia to keep showing the strength of the Catalan independent movement to the Spanish government and to the rest of the world. By building on legitimacy, the only possible result in the long-run is to see an independent Catalonia unless current Yes voters switch to other options. 

Having said that, I am sceptical about the ones that claim that the result of the referendum is not strong enough to make this unilateral declaration of independence. Let’s check the numbers. 

According to the not-yet-official information there are 5.343.358 potential voters and 2.020.144 Yes votes. This is 37.8% of the total citizens with right to vote, and 89.29% of the actual votes (2.262.424). These percentages are meaningless, not only because we do not know the amount of No votes, also because we do not know how many Yes votes were captured by the Spanish police during the Referendum (1-O). 

However we can look at what would happen considering a scenario with some reasonable assumptions. Let’s suppose we have the same turnaround of previous Catalan elections of 77.26% (the highest in history). We also know that the null and the blank vote equal approximately 1% in all elections. 

With the abovementioned parameters the result would be 50.1% Yes votes and 49.9% No votes, a tiny victory for independency. (I am pretty sure the average reader of this blog can produce themselves the simulations in an excel spreadsheet).

I acknowledge that many variations of this simulations can be made, but considering that we do not have total Yes votes and that I have considered the highest historical turnaround, most of these scenarios would increase the differences in favour of the Yes vote.  

In addition to that it must be said that I am gradually seeing more adhesions to the Yes vote, including myself. And this means that we need to keep fighting for a legal vote we all can respect.

In my modest opinion Catalan government cannot declare independency without having full legitimacy. This decision is of high importance and therefore should be taken only as a last resort. It is better to wait some years to have the desired outcome than to risk everything at this stage. Demonstrating in the polls the strength of the movement repeatedly in a peaceful way is the best asset to convince the EU and other international organizations about the importance to mediate the Catalonia-Spain conflict.

With a growing community of Catalan willing to back independency the normal expectation is to see a victory of parties supporting the referendum in a regional election.The question then is: why then the Catalan government do not seem to realize about this advantage and call for new regional elections? 

My only plausible explanation is that they know they will be unable to avoid internal disputes and this gives an advantage to national parties. The heterogeneity inside the Catalan independent movement is huge, and is precisely this transversality its weakest point in regional elections.

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