The overwhelming vote of Catalonia’s referendum in favour of independence yesterday was hardly surprising, nor was the violence that accompanied it as police tried to shut down voting. Not all Catalans want independence from Spain, so avoided the vote, leaving the field clear for independence supporters, while sovereign states are usually loath to see any part of their territory secede.

The push for Catalonian independence arose as a result of Spain’s constitutional court reinterpreting Catalonia’s autonomy provisions, previously agreed to by the national government, which had expanded the extent to which the province could be responsible for its own legal and financial affairs. The Spanish constitution is ambiguous on this point, noting that Spain’s regions can be autonomous, but also calling for national unity.