Divendres  07.09.2012  06:00

Autor/s: Col·lectiu Emma (@CollectiuEmma)

A different kind of march on the Catalan National Day

Notes on the demonstration planned for September 11 in Barcelona


On July 10, 2010, the traditionally reticent Catalans turned up in hundreds of thousands in central Barcelona for a truly massive political demonstration. The immediate cause was Spain's virtual rejection of the self-rule charter that had been passed by their Parliament and endorsed in a referendum four years before. At the time, this revised Estatut had been seen in Catalonia as an honest proposal for a commonly acceptable political arrangement within the state's framework. By 2010, however, many had despaired about the possibility of ever reaching such an agreement, and although the official theme for the march was not independence, this was exactly the word that most people were chanting that day on the streets of Barcelona.

Two years on, when Catalans are preparing to celebrate their historical National Day on September 11, things haven't improved one bit, and not only because of the dreadful state of the economy. Admittedly, the measures taken by the Spanish government to deal with the financial crisis are bringing many doubters over to the independence camp, but the Catalans' discontent goes much deeper than that. Spain's crippling policies on the economic and political fronts have been compounded by a renewed onslaught against all aspects of their national identity. This makes it vital –and urgent– for Catalans to take control over their own future.

This year the demonstration planned for September 11 will have one unambiguous theme: "Catalonia, new state in Europe". People will march across town to the Parliament building, where a delegation will be met by the Speaker. And although this is essentially a civil-society initiative, several political groupings have given their full support. Some leaders and elected officials will be marching under their parties' banners –including that of CDC, a moderate center-right party and the senior partner in the ruling coalition. Many others will join in as private citizens even though their organizations have expressed reservations. Catalan President Artur Mas has announced that he won't be there, but the mere fact that he had been considering that possibility –or some other way of showing support– is an indication of how far the idea of independence has traveled in only a few years. Indeed, polls now show that if a referendum on separation from Spain were to be held today this would be the preferred option for over half of the voters, while only around one fifth would be against it.

More and more Catalans are becoming aware of the durable harm that Spain is causing to their economy and their society, and many have given up on the possibility of a compromise with the state. So this time they won't be pleading for a fair deal from the central government or protesting its latest refusal to even discuss such a deal –in fact, the Spanish government doesn't even come into the equation. On September 11, 2012, Catalans will be directly calling on their own leaders to start on the road towards full sovereignty.


Autor: Col·lectiu Emma