As you should know if you've been keeping up with my rivetting blog posts, a group of international observers made up of a wide (politically speaking) range of Members of the European Parliament were present at the Catalan "vote" on 9 November. Here's their report (and here at this link, the team leader's personal thoughts):
by the International Parliamentary Delegation on Catalonia’s Public Participation Process.
We are a cross party delegation of European Parliamentarians. We have been asked by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia to observe this process under what proved to be unusual and changing circumstances.
In our view this process was unique. As far as we saw, and we did not and could not be expected to see everything, the process took place in a calm and open manner where no one was coerced or intimidated. We
witnessed no attempt to persuade citizens to participate in general or to endorse a particular side.
We can make no comment on the count, as we did not observe it. We can make no comment on the polls which took place abroad, as we did not observe them.
This participatory process has been conducted under challenging circumstances, and we believe has been conducted successfully. We would hope that in the future, Catalans will be able to participate in such a process, without the challenges that we witnessed today.
The delegation was treated with respect and enjoyed co-operation with all those involved in the process. We had the freedom to travel and interrogate as we saw fit and experienced no coercion or direction. We
were able to interact with the media at all times. We were also able to meet participants from all sides of the debate.
• The delegation witnessed no coercion or intimidation and no attempt to influence the activity of the participants.
• There was a high level of participation across Catalonia in spite of challenges.
• The process was conducted in a positive and family-friendly atmosphere.
• The process was conducted in an efficient manner by a large number of
• There were an adequate number of ballot boxes for the process.
• The process for verification of citizens intending to vote was of a high standard, utilising ID cards. Those without cards were unable to vote (although they would be able to vote later). The details of each participant were recorded on paper, and confirmed by interrogation of a computer database, before each vote was cast.
• The computers used in each polling station were not connected to the internet providing greater confidence that they were free from abuse or interference.
• The computer software which facilitated the verification of IDs was off a high standard and was tested by the delegation to ensure that it did not allow false voting. The Computer Programme was called ‘Participation
• The participation of people aged 16 - 18 was a success.
• There was no census/electoral roll available, adding difficulty to administration of the poll.
• The unusual conditions of the poll meant that there were fewer polling stations than during standard elections creating problems and potentially confusion for voters.
• The absence of an official Electoral Presiding Officer was a weakness since it made addressing complaints and problems in real time more difficult.
• Whilst we do not question the integrity of the volunteers, the manner in which they were selected and allocated positions was less satisfactory than would have been the officiation by designated polling officers.
• The provision for privacy of voting was not universal.
Ian Duncan (United Kingdom) acting as spokesperson / European Parliament /
European Conservatives and Reformists - Conservative Party
Izaskun Bilbao (Spain) / European Parliament / ALDE – Basque Nationalist Party
Mark Demesmaeker (Belgium) / European Parliament / European Conservatives and
Reformists - Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie
Jill Evans (United Kingdom) / European Parliament / Group of the Greens -European
Free Alliance - Plaid Cymru
Valter Mutt (Sweden) / Swedish Parliament / European Green Party - The Green
Gérard Onesta (France) / Regional Parliament of Midi-Pyrénees / European
Green Party - Europe Ecologie
Peter Vilfan (Slovenia) / Parliament of Slovenia / ALDE - Alliance of Alenka Bratusek
Bernhard von Grünberg (Germany) / Parliament of the Land North Rhine-
Westphalia / European Socialist Group - SPD
Barcelona, 9 November 2014