"Do you want the citizenry of the Basque Country to decide their own political future, by themselves and freely?" This is the question that was put to more than 160,000 potential voters in the city of San Sebastian - all those aged 16 and over - this Sunday in a day of popular consultations on the future of Euskadi, the Basque Country, promoted by the civic platform Gure Esku Dago.
The informal poll, which was also replicated in four other smaller Basque centres today, is based on the model used from 2009 in Catalonia, which became a key early part of the Catalan independence process; polls have already been held in 203 smaller Basque municipalities. Basques have responded to the opportunity to give their views by going to the polls in considerable numbers: the voting platform gives the turnout in the city of San Sebastian as 13%, with a total of 21,015 taking part. Votes also took place in Irun, Zalla, Balmaseda and Alonsotegi, bringing the total numbers voting to 28,684.
The organizers say they are pleased with the participation, taking into account that this is the first experience of the "right to decide" in the Basque country, and that today's poll only covered some municipalities in the Basque province of Guipúzcoa.
[PARTE HARTZEA] 28.684 herritarrek hartu dute parte gaurko galdeketetan. Zorionak!— Gure Esku Dago (@GureEskuDago) November 18, 2018
Hemen herrikako parte hartze datuak: pic.twitter.com/Rosn2jCczv
The city of San Sebastian was the main focus for the vote, with a thousand volunteers taking part in the organization of the sovereignty consultation. San Sebastian is the first large Basque city to become part of the wave of consultations, accounting for the vast majority of the 220,000 potential voters in the five localities polled on Sunday. In the city, thirty polling stations were opened, the majority in the street, and the political consultation was promoted in a festive atmosphere.
The Gure Esku Dago campaign is also supported by the main Catalan pro-independence groups and political parties, and among those present in Donostia for the poll were Elisenda Paluzie, president of the Catalan National Assembly; Marcel Mauri, vice president of Omnium Cultural; along with a number of pro-independence politicians including Gabriel Rufián, Joan Tardà (ERC); Aurora Madaula and Eduard Pujol (JxCat), and Aina Delgado (CUP).
There were also international observers present, among them Shona McAlpine, secretary and international relations delegate for Independence Convention (Scotland), and Julieta Gaztañaga, anthropologist, researcher and teacher (Argentina).
Aurrera doa gaurko bozketa. Donostiako @eajpnv-ko zinegotziak bozkatzen ari dira @gureeskudago-k antolatutako galdeketan. Animatu eta parte hartu! #Donostia #SanSebastian #ErabakiaGureEsku pic.twitter.com/tWAmtAKCQ4— EAJ PNB DONOSTIA (@DonostiaPNV) 18 of November 2018
As well, the campaign has the explicit support of the main Basque political parties PNB (Basque Nationalist Party) and Euskal Herria Bildu (Basque Country Unite).