The fall ahead: Independence is in the air (Part 1)

The fall ahead of us is going to be a critical moment for self-determination and self government. Never in recent history have the questions of the right to decide and a democratic right to secession been at the centre of world politics to such an extent.

Let’s therefore recap the major events ahead of us in the next six months and what we should expect from them.

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FOUR REFERENDUMS

Four key referendums will take place in the next six months. Three of them in Europe and one in the Middle East. They are going to have an impact for a long period of time.

Catalonia

The most notable of them will take place on 1st October in Catalonia. Catalans will head to the poll giving a voice to their democratic right on a very simple question: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?”.

If you follow our Facebook and Twitter accounts you should be already familiar with the situation in Catalonia. The referendum was announced by Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in June as an expression of the Catalans’ democratic right to decide for their future and later disputed by the central government in Madrid on constitutional ground.

Polls ahead of the the referendum suggest some fluctuations but the trend is firmly in favor of the pro-independence side. For indy campaigners in Catalonia, as well as for supporters of all these four referendums, the biggest challenge will be turnouts. In the absence of official threshold , the more people will head to the polls, the strongest the impact of the vote will be.

Kurdistan

Just five days before Catalonia, Iraqi Kurds will be heading to the polls to decide on whether Iraqi Kurdistan will become an independent state. All Iraqi Kurdish political parties are campaign for a yes vote with only a handful of exceptions.Official polls have not yet been published but an overwhelming support for independence has long been registered in the region.

The time frame is not the only commonality in these two countries: the hostility of their central government is a shared features of these two nations’ experiences too. Baghdad and neighbor countries (including Turkey and Iran) have already voiced their opposition to this referendum. The aftermaths of the vote are still very unclear especially in light of the Iraqi general elections scheduled in 2018.

Veneto and Lombardy

Few weeks afterwards it will be the turn of two Italian regions: Veneto and Lombardy. On October 22nd the two northern “regular statuary” regions will vote on an legally recognised referendums on devolution.

While polls show a large support for a yes vote in Veneto (the last poll indicated a 73% of the electoral base is likely to vote yes), Lombardy could show some uncertainty despite the pro-devolution vote being ahead in the polls.

These two referendums, despite being non-biding, could send a very strong message to the central government if turnouts are high. In particular, the support of the Venetian and Lombard centre-left Democratic Party (generally associated with more centralist attitudes) to a yes vote symbolises how the issue of self government and devolution has gone beyond the traditional left-right wing divide.

In part two we will examine the electoral landscape of the next few months. From the election in Portugal to Somaliland and what are the major implications for supporters of the democratic right to decide and self-government.

Stefano Zambon
Executive member for policy and communications.

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