Spanish police and military guards are aggressively suppressing a self-determination referendum on independence for Catalonia, which Madrid says “runs counter to the goals and ideals of the European Union”.
The Spanish government enjoys the support of the EU’s unelected executive, with the President of the European Commission warning against “separatist adventures” and asserting that “regional traditions” should not “set themselves as elements of separatism and fragmentation of Europe”.
The Catalans, who have their own regional government based in Barcelona, have a troubled relationship with Spain, which violently stripped away their autonomy and attempted to stamp out their language during the Franco years, and also settled hundreds of thousands of outsiders in the region to try and dilute its sense of national identity.
Catalonia’s leaders organised a referendum on establishing an independent republic in 2014, which was approved with over 80 per cent of the votes cast — but Spain, backed by the European Union, refused to recognise it.
Nevertheless, the Catalan parliament resolved to secede from Spain in November 2015, and is holding a referendum today which — if successful — will see the region declare independence within 48 hours.
The Spanish authorities have declared the vote illegal, and are going to great lengths to disrupt and dismantle it.
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