A more decisive vote than Brexit

First, I want to express my admiration for those in Catalunya who had the courage to vote in yesterday's referendum, and I particularly want to salute those who were injured by the Guardia Civil and the police forces sent in from outside Catalunya. It was a great shame that the Spanish State acted in the way it did, but thankfully no-one was killed. A small mercy.

In terms of the vote itself, I have no reason to doubt the official figures announced last night and published this morning.

Of votes counted:

Yes ... 2,020,114 ... 90.1%
No ... 176,566 ... 7.8%
Blank ... 45,586 ... 2.0%
Void ... 20,129 ... 0.9%

Electorate ... 5,343,358
Turnout ... 42.3%
Yes as percentage of total electorate ... 37.8%


It is worth noting that the Leave side won the UK's referendum on EU membership with the votes of 37.4% of the total electorate (17,410,742 out of 46,500,001). So if we accept the UK's vote as decisive, we must accept Catalunya's vote as equally decisive, if not more so. In fact the EU, and every one of its member states, has accepted the UK's decision, so it would be inconsistent for them not to accept this democratic decision as well.


But of course the number voting for Catalan independence is in fact somewhat higher that the official figures show, because they only represent the votes that could be counted. The Catalan government estimates that 770,000 intended votes were not counted either because people were physically prevented from voting, or because the votes that had actually been cast were then stolen by the Spanish authorities. Clearly this is a more contentious figure, not least because those who were prevented from voting in one location might well have voted elsewhere; but I think it's reasonable to assume that the stolen ballot boxes would have roughly the same mix of votes as the ones that weren't stolen.

So at the high end, 90% of 770,000 would be another another 693,000 Yes votes, or more than 2.7m in total representing some 50.5% of the total electorate. At the low end, if the figure only represents those who could have voted, then 38% of 770,000 would be another 293,000 Yes votes, or about 2.3m in total representing some 43.0% of the total electorate. The real number of missing Yes votes would be somewhere between the two.


One of the things I've heard and read repeatedly in the media is the claim that support for Catalan independence has fallen over the last few years. These voting figures don't bear this out. In the consultatory referendum of 2014, the Yes/Yes vote (in favour of Catalunya becoming a state, and for it to be an independent state) was 1,861,753.


I have no doubt that when the Catalan Parliament next meets, in the next day or two, it will declare Catalunya to be an independent state.

Update - 23:00, 8 October 2017

With the postal votes now counted, the final referendum result is:

Of votes counted:

Yes ... 2,044,038 ... 92.0%
No ... 177,547 ... 8.0%
Blank ... 44,913 ... 2.0%
Void ... 19,719 ... 0.9%

Electorate ... 5,313,564
Turnout ... 43.0%
Yes as percentage of total electorate ... 38.5%


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