BARCELONA, Spain (ViaNews) – This Thursday the 21st, citizens of Catalonia will head to the polls to elect which party will lead the region of Catalonia. The election follows a tumultuous few months in which the Catalonia Government declared themselves independent from Spain. This resulted in a crackdown on the region’s government by Spain.

Leading members of the Catalonia government were soon arrested and the president, Carles Puigdemont, fled to Brussels to avoid being detained. Mariano Rajoy, the president of Spain, declared direct rule over the region through Article 155 of the constitution, after a vote by the Spanish parliament. The Catalonia government was then dissolved, and snap elections were called for December 21st.

Crowd in Barcelona supporting the split by Catalonia from Spain. Photo by: Evan McCaffrey.
Crowd in Barcelona supporting the split by Catalonia from Spain. Photo by: Evan McCaffrey.

Since the direct rule was declared, Catalonia has been without a regional government. This has had political and logistical consequences across the region. In addition, hundreds of businesses have left and tourism has dropped by close to 30%.
Many people living in Catalonia do not believe the election will solve the political instability seen all around. Opposing sides are so entrenched in their beliefs that there is little negotiation or compromise taking place.

These opposing views have seen families, friends and communities split on the issues. While walking down any street in Barcelona, the divide becomes apparent. Catalan Independence flags can be seen hanging from terraces directly beside a neighbor’s Spanish flag. There are many predictions on the results of the election, but with such volatile issue, only time will tell what the future has in store for Catalonia.

Here are a few different viewpoints from individuals who will be voting this Thursday for a new government.

Girl with Catalonia flag. Pro-Catalan Independence demonstrators organize before regional elections. "Vote to be free" is written on the tree. Photo by: Evan McCaffrey.
Girl with Catalonia flag. Pro-Catalan Independence demonstrators organize before regional elections. “Vote to be free” is written on the tree. Photo by: Evan McCaffrey.
Via News TV

Name: Mishelle
Age: 23
Occupation: Rental car agent

Where do you currently live?
“I, currently, in Sabadell, near the city of Barcelona.”

Who will you be voting for this election and why?
“I will be voting for the ”En Comu Podem” party because it is the only political party that doesn’t focus only on independence. It also contributes more to society, such as employment creation, fights against corruption, guarantees the right to housing, and has a feminist policy.

What are your views on Catalonia Independence?
“I support Catalonia economic independence like the Basque country has, but I believe that a total independence from Spain and of course from Europe is a huge mistake. European countries are trying to move away from nationalism and national barriers and this is doing the opposite.”

Name: Juanjo García
Age: 29
Occupation: System Administrator (IT)

Where do you currently live?
“Barcelona”

Who will you be voting for this election and why?
“I will vote for En Comú Podem. Because I like the proposals in their electoral program, especially the social policies and because, discarding the pro-Independence parties, the right/fascists parties, and corrupt parties, the option more similar with my ideals is En Comú Podem.”

What are your views on Catalonia Independence?
“I think it’s wrong to ask for Independence, there are more important things to solve. the first thing that should be achieved is a greater inflow of money in Catalonia to invest more in R+D+i (Research, Development, Innovation), increase budgets in education and public health and eliminate all corruption. The second and more important thing is that in such a globalized world it does not matter who you belong to, people do not visit a city for the country to which it belongs, but visit it for many other things. We should worry more about being proud of our land, to show the world how amazing our culture is. If we seek Independence without a government structure and an army, in two days they will eliminate it and we will lose the legacy that has been left for so many centuries.”

Pro-Catalan Independence demonstrators organize before regional elections. Photo by: Evan McCaffrey.
Pro-Catalan Independence demonstrators organize before regional elections. Photo by: Evan McCaffrey.

Name: Mireia
Age: 25
Occupation: Architect

Where do you currently live?
“Barcelona.”

Who will you be voting for this election and why?
“I will vote for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya because it is a Catalan nationalist political party that has its base in helping the working-class of all parties and has the most complete electoral program. For instance, nowadays we live in a society where the difference between the rich and the poor is huge and this party will help to reduce such a difference.”

What are your views on Catalonia Independence?
The Independence of Catalonia is necessary, but impossible. To understand why it is “necessary,” it’s important to explain the following:

Spain is completely authoritarian and not very democratic. It is where a great part of the population cares more about what their neighbor is doing than what is happening to themselves. With this, politicians and the media (often controlled by politics) have created a mutual “enemy,” so to speak, that is Catalonia. This has been used as a smoke curtain to cover the corruption and the real things that are happening in Spain. Besides, Spain is a country where the corruption is rewarded. We can see that nowadays where corrupted politicians are in control of the leadership of Spain. Catalonia, on the other hand, has much more self-criticism and shows no mercy for the corruption. They do not let them rule nor take part in political matters.

Catalonia has different ways of thinking, different ideologies, has its own culture, language, history and more. In short, Catalonia should have the right to be able to govern-herself.
Also, it must be considered how Spain has managed its government roles in Catalonia. Most were done terribly (such as the infrastructure, trains, airports…) or were very expensive (AVE). The roles that Catalonia were able to control worked correctly (such as education, health service…). In addition, with the economical drowning by Spain and reduction of Catalonia’s government roles in the last years, Independence is even more necessary.

On the other hand, “impossible” is summed up by Catalonia being economically indispensable for Spain, so they will never allow it.

Pro-Catalan Independence flags. Photo by: Evan McCaffrey.
Pro-Catalan Independence flags. Photo by: Evan McCaffrey.