If one were to believe the recent polling in Catalonia it seemed that the country’s popular push for independence from Spain was rapidly loosing its momentum as many Catalans, facing the imminent prospect of an election-cum-plebiscite on the matter, were finding it difficult to square aspiration with reality. Indeed, when one factored in the hostility of a sizeable population of “unionist-leaning” residents from Spanish and other backgrounds, it looked likely that the main anti-nationalist parties were set to make substantial gains in the forthcoming regional election. Gains that would throw a barrier across the legislative road to full sovereignty. Yet, despite the negative polls of the last few months, Catalan nationalism can still inspire hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets of their capital city, as reported by the Guardian newspaper:
“Nearly 1.5 million Catalans took to the streets of Barcelona on Friday to rally for independence, as the region’s politicians launched their campaigns for a looming election billed as a make-or-break moment for Catalonia.
“This is the most important campaign of our lives,” said Raul Romeva of the pro-independence Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) party. A coalition made up of the Catalan leader Artur Mas’s conservative CDC party and the leftwing Catalan Republic Left, Junts pel Sí is seeking to turn the 27 September regional ballot into a quasi-referendum on independence.
The formal campaign began on Catalan National Day, a holiday that in recent years has become a show of strength for secession-minded Catalans with massive rallies staged in support of breaking away from Spain. This year, in a nod to the politically charged backdrop, organisers of the rally adopted the slogan “Let’s start building a new country.”
Most polls show that pro-independence parties are poised to win a slim majority. This week, the state-sponsored Centre for Sociological Research released a poll suggesting Junts pel Sí is on track to win 38.1% of the vote (60 to 61 seats). If they join forces with the pro-independence, far-left party CUP, projected to win eight seats, the separatists could eke out the majority they need to begin the process of breaking away from Spain.”
Even though a few of those marching in the demonstrations on Friday were regionalists rather than nationalists, those favouring greater autonomy or federalism within Spain rather than independence from it, the huge turn-out shows that the question of Catalonia’s near future has yet to be decided. The Iberian nation may still have its Irish revolution.
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