The Referendum in Catalonia

Oct. 6, 2017 Weekly Graphs

The government of Catalonia held a referendum on independence from Spain on 1 October, 2017. Since adopting democracy in the late 1970s, Spain has decentralized power to its regions, known as Autonomous Communities. Catalonia is one of Spain’s richest regions, contributing approximately 20% of Spain’s GDP, as well as being Spain’s second-most populated Autonomous Community. The independence referendum has been declared unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court, as referendums on regional independence are not allowed in Spain. In recent weeks, the region has seen massive protests in favour of independence, increasing tensions between the central and regional government.

This week’s graph presents the Direct Popular Vote Index. The index measures the degree to which a country has achieved the ideal of direct democracy,  understood as a form of democracy in which people directly vote on policies. The fluctuations in the Index reflect the referendums that have been held in Spain. Referenda in Spain have been held infrequently, and only on issues deemed to be of national importance, such as reinstituting the monarchy in 1957, adopting a democratic constitution in 1978, remaining or leaving NATO in 1986, or on the establishment of a European Constitution in 2005.

To find out more about the Direct Popular Vote Index, or any other V-Dem Indicator, use our online tool at

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