Beyond the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ of Catalonia’s Independence Referendum
Elisa Marvena, 12 Oct 17

A woman rebukes the National Police during the Catalan referendum, on October 1st 2017. Photo by Vicens Forner Puig, with with permission.

With hashtags like #votarem (“we will vote”), citizens with the right to vote in Catalonia, a region in northeast Spain, published their photos and stories on social media while they participated in a controversial referendum on independence. The vote on 1 October was deemed illegal by the central government in Madrid, which considers it unconstitutional.

Catalonia's current independence process started in 2012, when the Catalan Parliament resolved to request authorisation from the government in Madrid to hold a referendum on self-determination. Despite Madrid's continuous rejection, supported by the country's Constitutional Court, the Catalan government unilaterally decided to call a non-binding consultation in 2014, and, finally, the referendum on 1 October.

While public TV channels and other mass media outlets were criticised for their coverage of events, every minute of election day could be followed on social media, which was filled with excited testimonies, people who spent the night outside the polling booths to prevent them being shut down, or videos of long queues and people waiting for hours to vote.

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