Leavers: 38% in Catalonia, 37% in UK (and 38% in Scotland)

A little fewer than 38% of the eligible voters answered “yes” in the Catalonian independence referendum yesterday. That is, 42% turned out to vote and 89% of them voted “yes” to independence. Or, to count directly, 2.02 million out of the 5.34 registered voters chose independence.

In last year’s Brexit referendum, over 37% of the UK voters voted “leave.” More than 72% of the eligible voters took to the polls and 52% of them backed Brexit. That’s 17.4 million out of 46.5 million.

I’m probably stating the obvious, but it’s a noteworthy similarity.

Update (reposting my comment at White Sun of the Desert). Of course these numbers have to be weighed against the other side: in 2014, 38% of the Scots voters backed independence but 46% didn’t [and stated their opinion clearly at the booths] . The turnout was a whopping 85%. It looks like Madrid had done everything it could to keep Catalonian unionists at home: it made the referendum less representative but the 89% “yes” vote conveyed the message that most unionists don’t care much for their cause.


  1. “conveyed the message that most unionists don’t care much for their cause.”

    Or maybe they don’t want to give legitimacy to what they regard as a dubious and illegal referendum. I’m really unconvinced this was ever likely to be a free and fair election given it was arranged and run by pro-independence extremists. What guarantees do we have that the vote was counted fairly?

    Madrid may have been heavy-handed but I’m not impressed by the Catalan independence movement. They live in a prosperous region in a first world country where their culture and language is not repressed and yet they’re playing at brinkmanship which could lead to serious violence, if not civil war. Given the current mess the world is in, I think I’ll save my sympathy for worthier causes.

    • My point is that Rajoy could have, and probably should have, let the referendum proceed – on the condition that Spanish and international observers be present. Madrid’s task would have been to mobilize opponents of independence without irritating latent separatists into voting. Not an impossible feat, judging by the opinion polls and by Scotland’s experience.

      It’s understandable that many Catalonians resent being subjects of a Bourbon in Madrid. Small nations have a long, deep-seated historical memory so 1939 must feel like yesterday to some of them. The sight of Spanish cope beating up Catalonian civilians isn’t just ugly: it signifies occupation. But that means – on the other hand – that the remedy can also be symbolic in part. King Philip has spoken out against the referendum’s divisiveness. To patch up the divide, he could offer to free those Catalonians who resent his sovereignty from the oath of allegiance if they agree to recognize him as the king of Catalonia. Ultimately, Spain can be reconstituted as a federal state. The unitary model obviously doesn’t work.

      • Well, 1978 -the year the Catalans voted for the Spanish constitution- was a lot nearer to 1939 than 2017 is, and the recent referendum was unconstitutional. I think opinion polls have also shown the unionists have a slender majority in Catalonia, although the pro-independence people are a lot mouthier.

        On the other hand, I can’t really be bothered to delve too deeply into the background to this one. I have marginally more time (i.e. not very much at all) for the Catalan independentistas than for, say, the Lega Lombarda, but that’s about it.

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