Catalonia rallies for independence from Spain

Over 1.5 million people took part in Catalonia’s national day march on 11 September in Barcelona. It was the largest demonstration that the city had ever seen and the route had to be changed because of the huge and unexpected crowds.

The annual march commemorates the siege of Barcelona in 1714 when the city was defeated by the Bourbon army and lost its self-government. This year the march was a protest against the central Spanish government and in particular its austerity measures, with the rallying slogan “Catalonia, Europe’s new state” and the Catalonian flag much in evidence.

1,200 buses brought people to Barcelona from other towns and villages in the region. Most of the parties in the Catalonian parliament attended and although the president of the region, Artur Mas, was not there in person he sent a message of solidarity and has said that he will meet the organisers.

The central government has underplayed the march, reporting only about 600,000 people present.

Catalonia is Spain’s richest region and pro-independence supporters claim that it pays too much tax to the central government, which does not respect its language and culture enough. In August Catalonia asked the central government for a bailout fund of €5 billion.