Less than 30% turnout in today’s Catalan independence ‘consultations’

TV3 is reporting that of the 700,000 people eligible to vote in today’s referendum/consultations, 200,000 voted. If that number is correct, the turnout stands at just under 30%.

What does this mean for Catalonia? There are several points to take into consideration (which affect any interpretation of events in various ways):

  • The consultations were non-official and therefore certainly not taken as seriously as an official referendum would be. This means that the approx. 30% who did take part probably come from more politicised parts of Catalan society. I suspect that pro-independence elements will have voted more strongly (based on the fact that only the pro-independence movements seemed to be drumming up any support for the ballots). The other 70% of the population would likely include far more anti-independence voters than today’s result will indicate.
  • The consultations were carried out in largely rural towns and villages, which traditionally demonstrate a much stronger level of support for Catalan independence. Barcelona and its suburbs, along with Tarragona and environs have large numbers of voters, including many with a more Spain-centric (and sometimes right-wing nationalist) point of view than will likely be seen in today’s results.
  • The consultations seemed to go without mention at all on TVE 1 this morning. For an official referendum, we can imagine that their coverage would have been different.
  • The consultations allowed votes from anyone over 16 and registered in the municipality concerned. An official referendum would likely follow Spanish/European electoral law and limit the electorate to Spanish citizens aged over 18. I’ll add that I’d like it if 16-18 year olds, and non-Spanish citizens were allowed to vote in elections. But they’re not.
  • The consultations have happened at a time when general support for Spanish PM Zapatero is very low (as was possibly intended). A PM from the Partido Popular would likely increase the pro-independence vote. A more popular Zapatero (or alternative) might well reduce it.

It remains to be seen what effect these consultations in the form of a referendum will have on Catalonia’s political future. My bet is that whatever the result, ERC, CUP and the CdC will claim it as a vote in favour for an official referendum within the next two or three years.

Barcelona, if it ever manages to hold a similar consultation, will always be the decider.

8 thoughts on “Less than 30% turnout in today’s Catalan independence ‘consultations’

  1. The referendums were successfull because the medias don’t inform abouth the consultations the previous days and the iniciative was a popular movement, without money. Moreover, the result was not legal. An official referendum with economy sources would be amazing.

  2. I agree with your analysis. With these results all we know is that probably *at least* this many people would vote for independence in a real referendum. In my opinion, we are still short of support for a general victory though.

  3. Oh well, if the latest European Elections registered a turnout of 37.5% in Catalonia ( http://www.3cat24.cat/especials/Eleccions/europees2009/catalunya.htm ), with all the official and media support of the EU, the Spanish government and the Generalitat and the mass media, then a turnout of nearly 30% in this consultation is a huge proess given that everything was against it! What it matters most is that people are given the right to speak up. Spain denies this right, as it bans the use of Catalan in the Spanish Congress and other institutions. It’s a fundamentally democratic right, don’t you think? You dont have to be in favour of independence to be in favour of a referendum taking place in Catalonia on the subject in the not too distant future!

  4. I agree with that analysis. It’s a shame that Barcelona and it’s suburbs plus Tarragona weren’t able to take part. I agree with Toni that 30% turnout isn’t bad for an unofficial referendum when you look at how few people turn-out for official ones. Look forward to hearing the results of this.

  5. Looking at a couple of the places close to Barcelona it’s possible to imagine that a vote could be won there too – but with a much lower turnout than that registered in more nationalist areas.

  6. Getting 25% turnout in Laporta’s capital city of Sant Cugat was pretty pathetic. I think it’s obvious to everyone that there isn’t > 50% support for full independence. The question was vague enough to leave enough wiggle room for everyone’s pet independence theory (part of a federation of Spain, fully sovereign, British Commonwealth-style).

    The Catalan-only education is making the next generation more radical, so it’s likely that this kind of stuff will continue into the foreseeable future. Having had to live through the endless referendum politics of Quebec in the 90s, this stuff just makes me feel exhausted.

  7. Chris: do you think that the English-only education in England or the Spanish-only education are making people more radical? What’s radical about studying in your language in your own country? I guess this comes from your inability to settle and integrate here…If you feel so exhausted of this kind of “stuff” pack your suitcase and go rest elsewhere!

  8. There’s several surveys that show that the generation of children that did Catalan-immersion are more radical about independence than older people.

    I like Catalunya. Dealing with the Catalan-stuff is just the tax I pay to live in such a nice city. I liked Quebec as well, Montreal is a great city. The language politics sucked as well, the politicians were crooked like nobody’s business but hey, nothings perfect.

    I like the US approach better. My ex-neighbor back in the US sends her daughter to a Spanish immersion public school. The US doesn’t even have an official language by law, it just happens to be English by convention.

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