‘Silent Catalan majority’ aim to speak out at election
Spain says sacked Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is welcome to stand in the emergency election in the region.
Puigdemont called for “democratic opposition” to Spain’s formal takeover in the wake of Catalonia’s bungled declaration of independence.
Madrid took formal direct control of Catalonia on Saturday, dismissing the region’s fragile separatist coalition government.
Madrid’s government building in Barcelona is surrounded, with the national police providing a wall of protection.
Madrid clearly hopes the suspension of autonomy across the region will not last long.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who replaces Puigdemont as the top decision-maker in the region, dissolved the regional parliament and called a regional election on December 21.
Polling suggests Spanish unionists make up a majority of voters and activists are now organising themselves and calling on all Catalan Spaniards to take to the streets today (Sunday).
Pro-union supporters hope to stage a massive anti-independence demonstration.
A member of the so-called silent majority, Laura Pesqueira, told Sky that the “minority” separatist movement had been trying speaking for the whole region.
She said: “More than 60 per cent we don’t want independence, there is only 40 per cent that wants this so it’s not normal that we suffer this situation.”
The separatists are just better organised and have the loudest voice, it is claimed.
Activist Ferran Brunet said: “The tradition of Catalonia is of also being in favour of better links with Spain. The tradition of Catalonia is to reform Spain, to modernise Spain it is not against.
“This is something new the separatist movement is the fruit of the last decades but it is not on the tradition of Catalonia.”
Meanwhile, Catalonia remains deeply divided with families, colleagues and neighbours falling out over the issue, in a way that is reminiscent of Brexit divides in the UK.
European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said Spain’s decision to call the new election “was the right thing to do”.
“No one will ever recognise Catalonia as an independent country. The referendum was illegal … the state of law should be restored,” he told reporters during a visit to the Vatican.
He said the election would allow voters to “decide what kind of government they want to have”.
“All should happen according to the Spanish constitution.”
Tajani said the rest of the European Union hoped talks would resolve the “difficult situation”, explaining that “this does not mean that European Union could mediate, because it is a Spanish internal issue”.
Barcelona has seen far more pro-independence protests. Picture credit: Flickr