Monday

10th May 2021

Catalans turn out en masse to ask for independence vote

  • The day commemorates Catalonia’s loss of independence in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714 (Photo: Helena Spongenberg)

Around 1.8 million Catalans took to the streets of Barcelona on Thursday (12 September) calling for the right to vote on independence.

The demonstration marks the beginning of a critical period in Barcelona-Madrid relations.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Around 1.8 million Catalans went to the streets in Barcelona calling for the right to vote on independence in the biggest demonstration for Catalan independence so far. (Photo: Helena Spongenberg)

Dressed in red and yellow - the national colours - people shouted “in-inde-indepedencia!” and “volem votar!” (we want to vote) while waving the Catalan independence flag.

Almost a quarter of the 7.5 million Catalans celebrated Catalan National Day - La Diada - in the streets of Barcelona, according to the local police forces.

The day commemorates Catalonia’s loss of independence in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714, exactly 300 years ago.

Earlier this year, the Catalan Parliament voted two-thirds in favour for a consultative referendum to be held on 9 November, asking the Catalans “whether Catalonia is a state” and “if yes, whether that state should be independent”.

The central government in Madrid, however, has said that it has ”all the mechanisms in place” to prevent such a vote.

Catalonia's parliament is next Friday (19 September) expected to approve a new law that allows for a consultative referendum. But it is widely expected that the Spanish Constitutional Court will ban the vote from taking place.

Just a few years ago, the national day was celebrated with the waving of the Catalan flag and a few official and non-official ceremonies. But the last three years has seen a big increase in both the use of Catalan independence flags and the turnout for the yearly demonstration calling for the right to self-determination.

The Catalan call for more autonomy and, now more than ever, for independence from Spain, comes after a period of centralist policies from Madrid.

The tipping point was when the Spanish constitutional court over-turned parts of a rewrite of the Catalan constitution that had already been approved by the Spanish parliament - all regions in Spain have their own constitution called a Statute of Autonomy.

The economic crisis has also prompted Catalans to want to control their own fiscal policy, something the Spanish government has rejected.

Meanwhile, a new education policy in Spain, which will effectively limit the dominance of the Catalan language in Catalan schools, has caused anger.

All this, together with Madrid turning a deaf ear to demands, has made many Catalans believe that they will be better off as an independent state in the European Union.

And believing that such a move might actually be possible is fuelled by the independence campaign in Scotland.

The Scottish referendum, on 18 September, will be closely followed all over Spain and especially in Catalonia. A Catalan government envoy, as well as, many Catalan lawmakers will be in Scotland during the vote.

A Scottish ‘Yes’ to independence would give Catalan separatists the hope that independence is no longer unrealistic.

It would also serve as a test to see how other European countries, and in particular Brussels, would react to a region breaking away from an EU member state.

Feature

Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands

Lawyers in Greece accuse Frontex of incorrectly labeling minors as 'adults', a violation. Among them was 17-year old William, sent to the adult section of Moria, where he says he was abused. He was later able to prove his age.

News in Brief

  1. Lukashenko amends emergency transfer of power
  2. German centre-left picks Scholz as would-be chancellor
  3. EU has not ordered AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June
  4. Macron: Pandemic showed need for more EU integration
  5. Election win fuels Scottish nationalists' referendum plan
  6. Surge in migrant arrivals to Italian island
  7. EU embassy pays bail for Georgia opposition leader
  8. British aristocrats caught peddling Kremlin ties

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU and US urge Israel to defuse Jerusalem violence
  2. Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands
  3. Has Albania really met the 15 tests to join the EU? No
  4. Vaccine fairness plus Russia on table This WEEK
  5. EU ambassadors flock to Red Square for Putin's parade
  6. MEPs win battle for bigger citizens' voice at Conference
  7. Hungary gags EU ministers on China
  8. Poland and Hungary push back on 'gender equality' pre-summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us