State of Independence IV

24 hours of events organised to keep a polling station full of people prior to opening of voting.

A set of film photographs taken during the day of the independence referendum in Catalunya.

The central government’s attempt to shutdown the referendum, which is illegal under Spanish constitutional law, failed after the regional Catalan police essentially refused to cooperate. As a result the Guardia Civil and Policía Nacional were used in a last minute attempt to close polling stations, resulting in hundreds of incidents of violence across the region as police battled with ordinary people. Despite this, only a handful of stations were closed.

With a turnout of 42% of eligible voters, the result was 92% in favour of independence. The result was unsurprising, with only the most extremely motivated likely to vote given the problematic and highly un-democratic environment in which this was held. The Catalan parliament is now expected to ratify the result and trigger a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain, potentially before the end of this week. If this happens, the Spanish central government may have little alternative but to impose direct rule over Catalunya, with consequences that will be very difficult to predict.

I do not know how to express sufficient contempt for people responsible for creating this situation, which is now running out of control and creating an unfolding social, political and economic disaster. From the Catalan politicians using nationalism as a smokescreen against their own corruption scandals, to the use of citizens as shields against riot police, to the cowardly and equally corrupt Rajoy central government that hid behind the law and then sent in forces to confront the people of Catalunya knowing the likely result. Neither side has made meaningful efforts to talk or to de-escalate the situation. And astonishingly the leaders of the ruling PP and the primary opposition party, the PSOE, have both praised the police response and refused to condemn the violence that has occurred. The only significant groups to try to seek compromise have been Podemos and the associated Barcelona En Comú city government of Ada Colau – but neither has sufficient support or power to prevent the crisis escalating.

Spain is a democracy and people elected these politicians in to power. If you vote for extreme or corrupt politicians, if you vote for people that wrap themselves in a flag and encourage nationalist slogans and ideology rather than rational policies to help their citizens, you are the problem. All of Catalunya and Spain should be deeply ashamed of what is happening here.

The photographs in this set are all taken from around the day of the referendum, and show some of the voting and also a protest march by a far right Spanish fascist group – an example of the radicalisation that these events are flaming.


Human shield placed around the polling station.


Voters queue in the rain, the Raval, Barcelona.


Spanish unity march, Barcelona.


Woman, wrapped in a Spanish flag, kisses the ground at the feet of the Policía Nacional.


Spanish unity march, Barcelona. A nice friendly image for Barcelona’s tourist industry.


Ripped posters, encouraging civil disobedience.


Spanish unity march, Barcelona.


Riot police, Barcelona. It is impossible to walk anywhere in the city without encountering sights such as this at the moment.


The Falange in Barcelona.


Ada Colau on screen in Plaça Cataluya after the vote, expressing horror at the violence.


  1. Estais realizando un magnífico trabajo, tanto a nivel fotográfico como de análisis de la situación!!!. Me siento absolutamente averganzado de este mi país. De España y de Cataluña, por supuesto.

  2. Ya se sabe: “a río revuelto ganancia de pescadores”, y como siempre, el beneficio nunca es para las clases populares.
    Me encantan tus reportajes. Un saludo

  3. Good photos of this sad state of affairs, as if there is not enough pain, sadness, loss and division in the world, why add to it and open old wounds. SAD. People, come to your senses and stop all this in-house fighting…there can be no winners, only losers.

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