Scotland independence vote fires up Catalonia

2014-09-09 13:00
Supporters of independence for Catalonia demonstrating in Barcelona to mark the Spanish region's official day or "Diada". (Lluis Gene, AFP)

Supporters of independence for Catalonia demonstrating in Barcelona to mark the Spanish region's official day or "Diada". (Lluis Gene, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Barcelona - The strengthening of Scotland's independence movement is fanning fierce passions in Spain's Catalonia region, where noisy demonstrations are planned on Thursday by Catalans who want to break away from Spain.

Catalonia's president Artur Mas set the north-eastern region at odds with Madrid when he announced plans to hold an independence "consultation" on 9 November this year - a move fiercely opposed by the Spanish government.

Now a poll published in Britain this weekend, which showed the "Yes" camp in Scotland moving slightly into the lead for the first time, has sent Catalan separatist feeling into overdrive.

"Scotland makes us envious and fuels our fury," said Josep Maria Guell, a 32-year-old architect, outside the headquarters of the Catalan National Assembly, the region's leading pro-independence group.

"The case of Scotland shows that with dialogue and political will from Madrid, we could resolve this democratically."

The timing for the YouGov poll in The Sunday Times newspaper came at the most sensitive time of the year for Catalonia: days before its annual "Diada" national day on 11 September, which falls exactly a week before Scotland's referendum.

V for vote

The Diada marks what many in this north-eastern region see as the day they lost their autonomy: 11 September 1714, when Barcelona fell to Spanish and French forces in the War of Succession that redrew the map of Spain.

This year the Diada opens the final straight in the dash to hold a vote on whether Catalonia should break away from Spain - a move the Spanish government has branded unconstitutional.

"In Scotland they have already won in that they are being allowed to vote," said Carme Forcadell, president of the ANC.

"But if the 'yes' vote wins there, that will suit us very well. We will see how the European Union reacts."

Proud of their distinct Catalan language and culture, many of Catalonia's 7.5 million inhabitants feel short-changed by the national government in Madrid, which redistributes their taxes.

Catalonia accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy but it was hit hard by the financial crisis that broke out in 2008.

Mass Diada demonstrations began at the height of Spain's financial woes in 2012, when vast crowds swamped central Barcelona. In 2013, hundreds of thousands formed a human chain around the region.

This year, supporters of independence will mass along two central Barcelona avenues in the shape of a giant letter V for "vote".

Organisers say more than 455 000 people have signed up so far for the demonstration, which will aim to fill the streets with red and yellow Catalan flags under the slogan: "The time is now".

'Not a nation'

The vote "cannot and will not take place", Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned at his last meeting with Mas in July.

Mas vowed to pass a new regional law that he says will allow him push ahead with the "consultation" anyway, but his efforts risk being thwarted by Spain's Constitutional Court.

Unlike Scotland, whose referendum was approved by the British government, the Catalan plan faces outright resistance from national leaders.

The Catalan anti-independence movement Catalan Civil Society (SCC) insists Madrid will get its way and rejects the comparison with Scotland.

"They are two different realities. Catalonia is a region, not a nation like Scotland," said the SCC's vice-president Susana Beltran.

Outside the ANC's headquarters in Barcelona, Scotland was on the minds of those queuing to buy Catalan flags and matching shirts for Thursday's rally.

"We are two countries fighting for the same thing," said Salvador Gorro, a 54-year-old salesman. "If things go well for them, that is good for us."

Read more on:    spain  |  scotland

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.