Catalonia’s National Day: 700,000 attend pro-independence rally

Another one in the list of the most massive political demonstrations in Europe

VilaWeb / Catalan News Agency
12.09.2022 - 10:35

Around 700,000 people gathered in the annual National Day pro-independence rally in Barcelona, according to the the organizing grassroots organization, ANC.  local police. Thus, the march was joined by 300,000 more people than last year, when the organizers estimated that 400,000 had marched in the streets. According to local police, the figure was 150,000, which is also higher than their calculations in 2021.

Every September 11, the attendance in the demonstration has been one of the key facts to know the level of engagement among Catalans over the independence campaign. The rally in 2014 marks the peak number of attendees, with 1.8 million, according to the local police, which stood for almost a quarter of the total population in the country. Yet, these numbers have been declining especially after the referendum and independence push in October 2017, with the pandemic also playing its role.

The rally began in Paral·lel avenue and ended in the Estació de França station, by the Ciutadella Park, where the Catalan parliament is located. The atmosphere was at all times cheerful and peaceful, with chants of independence, against governing parties, and some attendees supporting exiled president Carles Puigdemont. You can see some pictures of the rally here at the Catalan version of VilaWeb.

Independence or elections

When the event ended, ANC’s president Dolors Feliu demanded “independence or elections” to the two parties in cabinet, which are also favoring a split from Spain. During her speech, she said that 5 years after the 2017 independence referendum many people have run out of patience and she hinted at the creation of a new party, while many rally-goers spontaneously chanted “government, step down.”

Yesterday’s rally and Feliu’s ultimatum imply a move forward by the ANC in a delicate political moment, when ERC and Junts are negotiating a way not to derail the government agreement, although Junts is considering the possibility of leaving it. There is still a lot of legislation ahead, although next year there will be local and Spanish parliamentary elections, and a possible economic recession is looming and will shake the foundations of all political institutions.

President Aragonès did not attend the rally “because it is against [pro-independence] parties and not against Spain.” This is a major evidence that campaigners for a split with Spain are divided between those prioritizing talks with Madrid, including Aragonès, and those who say confrontation would be a much more effective way ahead. Indeed, the official manifesto for the protest, organized by grassroots organization ANC, criticizes the handling of the independence campaign by the parties leading it. It is the first time since 2015 that a Catalan president fails to attend the march.


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