Eric Guntermann

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A man buys a newspaper featuring the results at the Catalan regional election at a news stand in Barcelona on Dec. 22. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

The result of the election held in Catalonia on Dec. 21 appears contradictory. On the one hand, parties advocating independence collectively won a majority of seats. On the other hand, the party that most strongly opposes independence, Citizens, came in first place.

The election came amid enormous political unrest. In October, the Catalan government held a referendum on independence, even though Spanish courts had declared it illegal. After the results came in, the Catalan parliament unilaterally declared independence — after which the Spanish government suspended Catalan autonomy and jailed many pro-independence leaders.

In the wake of such dramatic events, we might have expected citizens to shift their votes significantly.…  Seguir leyendo »

Catalan supporters celebrate after the vote to declare independence from Spain by the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona on Oct. 27. (Guillem Sartorio/Bloomberg)

In the weeks after Catalonia’s controversial referendum on Oct. 1, tensions have been mounting between Catalan secessionists and the Spanish government. Here’s a rundown of what happened this week — and what it means.

Although surveys show that only a minority of Catalans support independence, separatists insist that the results of the Oct. 1 vote gave them a mandate to declare unilateral independence. So on Oct. 27, the Catalan regional Parliament did just that.

The Spanish government, faced with a threat to Spanish territorial integrity, responded quickly. Spain invoked Article 155 of the constitution to suspend Catalan self-government. Article 155 lets the national government step in when a regional government “doesn’t comply with the obligations of the Constitution or other laws it imposes, or acts in a way that seriously undermines the interests of Spain.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Thousands rallied in Barcelona on Sunday in support of a united Spanish state. (Pau Barrena/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Last week, Catalonia held a controversial referendum on whether it should secede from Spain. The vote was accompanied by a heavy-handed police crackdown that may have prevented some Catalans from voting. Nevertheless, the Catalan regional government declared that more than 90 percent of Catalans had voted for independence — even though the Spanish Constitutional Court had ruled that the referendum was illegal.

These events — and particularly the disputed results of the referendum — give the impression that Catalans are clamoring for independence. But this is wrong.

Before the referendum, a minority of Catalans supported independence

The most recent survey by the Catalan government’s Center for Opinion Studies (CEO), which was conducted in July, showed that only a minority of Catalans (35 percent) supported independence.…  Seguir leyendo »