Saturday

17th Aug 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

Exclusive

Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings

The German former secretary-general of the European Commission held some 21 meetings which were registered in the lobby register. But no documents appeared to exist summarising what was said.

Feature

EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock

No EU country willing to open its ports for the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, with France and others turning to the European Commission for help.

News in Brief

  1. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

Opinion

Lagarde's ECB must modernise

Christine Lagarde will succeed European Central Bank president Mario Draghi at a time of deepening polarisation among eurozone member states. It will take all of her skills as a leader and communicator to safeguard the institution's independence.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us