Catalonia’s polarization escalates

A handout photo made available by Catalan National Assembly (ANC) shows thousands of people carrying giant Catalan Flag and a banner reading 'Referendum is Democracy' as they gather during the National Day of Catalonia (Diada) celebrations in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, 11 September 2017. Large crowds are expected to hold rallies on Diada Day, related to a disputed regional independence referendum to be held in Catalonia in October. EPA-EFE/ROSER VILALLONGA / CATALAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Catalonia’s polarization escalates


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Approximately half a million people took to the streets of Barcelona on Monday to show support for the cause of secession, with buses coming from across the region. However, many Catalans stayed at home.

However, many Catalans stayed at home.

The demonstration took place on Catalonia’s national day (Diada), which commemorates the date the region lost its independence in 1714. Monday’s commemoration was more significant, as in less than three weeks Catalans are invited to go to the polls to vote for independence.

The Spanish Supreme Court has proclaimed the referendum on October 1 illegal, but the regional government is set on going ahead.

Successive opinion polls suggesting the vote will be close. The latest poll published by Metroscopia for El Pais on Monday suggests that 56% of Catalans see the vote as neither valid nor legal. The Spanish Supreme Court has pronounced the referendum illegal, while the national police force (Guardia Civil) is raiding print shops suspected of preparing material for the referendum.

The majority of regional governments are willing to back the referendum, although they don’t necessarily back an independence vote. Polls suggest that the attitude of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is bolstering the nationalist cause.

The question for October 1 is what happens when the regional police (Mosos) is ordered by a court to stop the referendum, they refuse, and the Civil Guard is called in.

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