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Why citizens should not go out to vote in Catalonia on Sunday

This democratic fraud is a mockery, and no one should give it legitimacy with their participation

Regional government representatives present the ballot boxes at a press conference on Friday.
Regional government representatives present the ballot boxes at a press conference on Friday. EL PAÍS

The residents of the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia have democratically voted on their future on 38 occasions. Ahead of all of these polls – elections on different levels, or legal referendums – EL PAÍS has called on citizens to take part, given that doing so is one of the fundamental democratic rights enshrined and guaranteed in the Spanish Constitution. And this newspaper has done so, because in a democracy, having the vote serves to represent plurality, giving power to governments that serve citizens, and submitting the former to controls should there be excesses.

The only guarantee is that if some kind of sham poll takes place, it will be a rigged vote, a democratic disgrace

Unfortunately, none of these factors are present in the call to vote in the referendum that the Catalan regional government has organized for tomorrow. The poll has been suspended and banned by the Constitutional Court – given that it goes against both the Catalan Statute, and the Spanish Constitution – as well as by the Catalan regional High Court. It is based on laws that illegitimately derogate both the Statute of Catalonia and the Constitution, after the legislation in question was fast-tracked through parliament in an ignominious coup that excluded half of the Catalan chamber from its drafting.

As if this weren’t enough, the requirements that regional premier Carles Puigdemont stated would be in place are not going to be met, having claimed that the referendum would be effective and count on democratic guarantees. But this is far from the case, and the vote will violate even the (illegal) referendum law that his own government passed on September 6. The poll will not be effective, because all of its management has been legitimately dismantled by law enforcement agencies. It lacks any kind of guarantees – even in cosmetic terms, given that the logistics of the vote were presented on Friday at a press conference that journalists had to pay to enter. With no electoral authority (the regional government itself had to dissolve the electoral board); with no available voter census; with no voting stations; with no proper information about polling places; without a reliable vote-counting system… The only guarantee is that if some kind of sham poll takes place, it will be a rigged vote, a democratic disgrace.

Without a fistful of negative votes, the false consultation would be elevated to the category of a Franco-era referendum

The vote is a mockery. It makes a mockery of all of us: of those who want to vote no; of those who want to vote yes due to their legitimate pro-independence beliefs; of those who are considering supporting the latter for tactical anti-government purposes; of the immense majority who, without making a noise about it, have decided to abstain so as to not take part in this illegal tragicomedy, which has more than an air of ridiculousness.

But this is more serious than just a mockery. Those who are going to vote should know that despite the lack of guarantees and controls, the organizers state that the results will be binding, and if the result is a “yes” vote, they will try to unilaterally declare independence, something that will lead to a serious crisis with unknown consequences.

In recent weeks, the regional government and its tools of agitation have called to vote, above anyone else, on those who are against independence, thus attempting to legitimize their illegal operation, their anti-statutory coup. They know that without a fistful of negative votes, their false consultation would be elevated to the category of a Franco-era referendum. Precisely because of this, no one should back this colossal fraud with their participation. The illegitimate must not be legitimized, and nor should the unilateral destruction of coexistence in Spain.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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