By 6pm on Sunday, voter turnout for the alternative Catalan referendum on independence for the northeastern region was announced to be 1,977,531 people in Catalonia itself, according to the deputy regional premier, Joana Ortega. That figure does not include the number of voters located abroad. Pro-independence nationalist parties and organizers said on Sunday evening that they were satisfied with the so-called “participative process,” and even expressed their surprise at what they considered to be a successful poll.
Given that the vote lacked legal backing, after the Constitutional Court upheld an appeal filed by the central government in Madrid against the referendum on a potential breakaway from Spain, no official census exists. Citizens holding national identity cards (DNI) with an address in Catalonia aged over 16 were eligible to vote, as well as foreigners resident in the region for more than three years. Spanish citizens living abroad and who were last registered in Spain with a Catalan municipality were also able to cast a vote.
Pro-independence nationalist parties and organizers said they were satisfied with the “participative process”
Calculations made by the Generalitat, as the regional government in Catalonia is known, estimate that there are 5.4 million Spanish residents in Catalonia aged over 16, as well as 900,000 foreign residents (although it is not known how many have spent more than three years living there). This figure roughly tallies with numbers offered by the National Statistics Institute (INE), which states there is a “resident population” in Catalonia born before 1998 (although without specifying nationality) of 6,228,531.
This purely orientative “census” suggests that by 6pm, turnout had reached 31.74%. At the regional elections of 2012, the participation at the same time was 56.30%.
Using the same methodology to compare the number of voters announced by the Generalitat with the data of residents from the INE, the turnout at 1pm was 18.34%, with a total number of 1,142,910 people. While the figure is not comparable given the type of poll, and in particular the lack of legal guarantees at Sunday’s vote, it is lower than that seen at the same time in the last regional Catalan elections, which were held on November 26, 2012. On that date, 29.35% of eligible voters on the census had cast their ballot by 1pm.