At El Masnou We Decide
Consulta sobre la independència de Catalunya
Consultation about the independence of Catalunya.
Last Friday as I was returning home on the Renfe Rodalies train, I was given a flyer about an upcoming “vote” regarding the independence of Catalunya, the “autonomous community” in which I live. The vote is on Sunday, 13 of December and anyone who is at least 16 years-old and has some sort of identification to prove that they live in El Masnou is able to participate. (I have a “targeta de residència” and “certifcat d’empadronament”.) So this is the first time I have been available to vote after living here for almost five years, even though this is not real vote, just a referendum.
(Under US law, a citizen, even expatriates, are allowed to vote in “federal” elections such as last year’s presidential election.)
The flyer claims that there will be international observers and accredited press attending. One can vote “SÍ”,“NO”, or in “Blanc” (blank ballot), “without political distortions or manipulations”. It is very common here that one can cast a blank ballot (also called “none of the above”). In regular political elections, the “blanks” often receive more votes (about 5%) than a number of political parties.
After Franco's death in 1975 and the adoption of a democratic constitution in Spain in 1978, Catalunya recovered, and extended, the powers that it had gained in the statute of autonomy of 1932, but lost with the fall of the Second Spanish Republic at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939.
The region has gradually achieved more autonomy since 1979. The Generalitat holds exclusive jurisdiction in culture, environment, communications, transportation, commerce, public safety and local government, and shares jurisdiction with the Spanish government in education, health and justice.
There is some nationalist sentiment present in a part of the population of Catalonia, which ranges from the desire for independence from Spain expressed by Catalan separatists, to a more generic demand for further autonomy. Some non-binding referendums with local character, asking the population whether or not they want to achieve independence, are currently being undertaken. A couple of months ago there was a similar referendum held in Arenys de Mar, also located in the comarca of Maresme about 25 km from El Masnou.