A minority of Catalan citizens favored independence until recently, but Madrid's handling of the crisis has played into the hands of separatists. Photo: Reuters/Juan Medina

Today’s Financial Times cites opinion polls from Barcelona’s Center for Opinion Studies showing that only 41% of citizens of Catalonia favor independence from Spain. What the FT fails to report is that 64% of Catalan citizens who say they would turn out to vote would support independence, giving the independence movement a massive 2:1 mandate.

Turnout in support for Catalan independence would likely ensure a Yes victory on Oct 1. Source: Center of Opinion Studies, Catalonia Generality

That explains why Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is pulling out every stop to prevent a referendum from taking place. The Madrid government sent in its paramilitary police force, the Civil Guard, as well as a large number of uniformed National Police officers and an unknown number of plainclothes national police agents, arrested members of the Catalan government, and seized voting materials.

The head of Catalonia’s provincial government, Carles Puigdemont, has promised to hold the referendum regardless, and two-thirds of the province’s mayors have pledged to support him. Spain faces not only the worst constitutional crisis since the death of Francisco Franco, but a deep social polarization.

400 Catalan priests and bishops signed a manifesto this week supporting independence, and the Spanish government made an official protest to the Vatican demanding that it suppress pro-independence activity in the Catalan Church. Hostility towards the Catalans elsewhere in Spain is intense. The right-wing newspaper ABC today ran a lead editorial entitled “Nazism in Catalonia,” claiming that the government is assembling a blacklist of anti-independence voters.