But in September 2012, at the height of Spain’s economic crisis, more than a million Catalans filled the streets of Barcelona demanding the right to self-determination.
Normally, a regional election anywhere wouldn’t really be worthy of a post, but this is an exception.
Formally the objective of the vote is to decide the membership of Catalonia’s 135-seat regional government. Catalan secessionists pushed for years for an independence referendum… “I want this situation to be solved in the best way possible”.
They argued that the Spanish government has consistently refused to allow a legally recognised referendum, ignoring an unofficial vote backing independence in November 2014.
So why would it end any different this time around?
“Without independence, nothing will change”. If we’ve been together for so long, why now? Spain’s national media are skewed against the independence movement, according to the ANC and Omnium.
Popular Unity Candidacy leader David Fernandez insisted in a television interview that his party “will not be the one to fail independence”. The federal government stands to lose hundreds of miles of coastline if Catalonia, which is strategically located on the Mediterranean Sea, secedes from Spain. Some Spanish military officials have in fact voiced such thoughts, though no-one knows whether they are serious or whether it’s just scare propaganda. Now secessionists hope that Sunday’s regional parliament elections will put Catalonia on the road toward breaking away.
Background on Catalonia and Spain is explained in this English-language Spanish website, An historical look at the drive for an independent state of Catalonia. This is the very last thing the European Union wants.
Barcelona falls to Spanish and French forces in the War of Succession and its autonomous institutions are dissolved.
Financial markets will also be watching the vote outcome. I feel Catalan because I married a Catalan and my children and grandchildren are all from here.
What should Spain do?
“Catalans have voted yes to independence”, acting Catalan regional government head Artur Mas told supporters, with secessionist parties on track to secure 72 out of 135 seats in the powerful region of 7.5 million people that includes Barcelona.
But the result suggested they would win less than 50 per cent of the popular vote and that a radical left-wing party was likely to emerge as a kingmaker in negotiations to push an independence effort forward that the central government in Madrid says would be illegal. However, opponents to independence say the majority of votes were cast by those did not want to break away from Spain.
“I feel part of Spain”.
Then why won’t Spain do that? “We have reached the moment that the Catalan people say enough is enough”.
The answer lies in Spain’s political DNA, which even 35 years after Franco’s death still has significant traces of Fascism. “Now, Catalonia faces its own destiny”.
“I don’t think they are going to have trouble moving forward”. “Democracy has won in Catalonia, and also in Spain, Europe and the world”. And it makes no sense for any region with self-respectt to remain in a country where their culture will never be treated as equal.
The leader of Ciudadanos Party, Albert Rivera, votes at a poll station at L’Hospitalet de Llobregat in Catalonia.