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The blue estelada flag

Catalan separatism [1] is a political movement which supports the independence of Catalonia from Spain and France. It is sometimes extended to the so-called "Catalan Countries", the whole Catalan-speaking domain (or even to its extension to the political entities where Catalan has some official status).

The Estelada flag, in its blue and red versions, has become its main symbol.



Francesc Macià, leader of ERC in the 30's and President of Catalonia

Some Catalan separatist authors argue that first precedents of Catalan independentism may date back as far as 1640, with the unsuccessful first Catalan Republic after Reaper's War, and subsequently during the War of the Spanish Succession. However, in the modern sense, the first political parties which started defining themselves as independentists[2] were created between the 1920s and the 1930s in Spanish Catalonia. The main separatist party created at this time was Estat Català[3] and its branch called Bandera Negra. Estat Català evolved into the new party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, although some of its members refused it and remained faithfull to the original Estat Català, now a small party.

After the Spanish Civil War, members of Estat Català and Nosaltres Sols founded the Front Nacional de Catalunya which became the main pro-independence party. However, one might argue that modern Catalan independentism was actually born in the 1960s with the Partit Socialista d'Alliberament Nacional (PSAN). Since then, the pro-independence movement has assumed a mostly left-wing political trend and has often shifted its focus from "independence for Catalonia" to "independence for the 'Catalan Countries'". By the 1970s, the PSAN split into several factions, and many other groups appeared, including the armed organization Terra Lliure. In the 1980s, the Moviment de Defensa de la Terra (MDT) became the major pro-independence political group but this too became divided by the end of the decade. During the 1990s, existing political parties such as Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and the linguistic-national initiative Crida a la Solidaritat progressively evolved towards a more pro-independence stance.

Modern Independentism

Joan Puigcercós leader of ERC in Blanes

Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya is currently the only organization campaigning explicitly for independence represented in the Catalan Parliament.They won a 14% of the total Catalan votes in the Catalan Parliament in the Catalonian parliamentary election, 2006 [4] becoming the 3rd most important party and having the key for the government. They are present as well in another parliament in the Catalan countries, namely that of the Balearic Islands, where they have one deputy [5]. They also have an elected member in the Consell de Mallorca[6] which belongs to the autonomic government. Out of Catalan Countries they have one eurodeputy and 3 deputies in the Spanish Parliament.

A number of members and voters of Convergència i Unió (CiU),nationalist federation of 2 parties[7] with the majority of seats at the Catalan parliament also give, usually less explicit, support to independence. This tendency inside the party has presumably been growing since its leader proposed in 2007 the so called Casa Gran del Catalanisme project which, among other causes, includes the defense of self-determination for Catalonia. Finally, the left wing party Iniciativa per Catalunya claims to give full support to self-determination right and has several members explicitly supporting Catalan independence.

The political parties that explicitly reject Catalan independence and self-determination rights are the Socialists' Party of Catalonia[8], the People's Party of Catalonia[9] and Ciutadans[10] wich had 26,8%, 10,7% and 3% of the vote respectively in the 2006 Catalan parliamentary election.

Other independentist smaller parties or coalitions, without present representation in any parliament, are Estat Català, Unitat Nacional de Catalunya, Endavant, PSAN, MDT, CUP and Reagrupament. There are also youth organizations such as Maulets or Coordinadora d'Assemblees de Joves de l'Esquerra Independentista, and the student unions SEPC and FNEC.


In recent years some of the rationale for Catalan independentism has received support from individuals coming from a broader political spectrum other than the usual left or far-left Catalan nationalism. Relevant examples are the liberal economists Xavier Sala i Martín [11] and Ramon Tremosa Balcells (elected deputy for CiU in the European parliament in the 2009 election), the lawyer and FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta[12] or the jurist and former member of the Consejo General del Poder Judicial Alfons López Tena[13]

The think tank Cercle d'Estudis Sobiranistes, led by the jurists Alfons López Tena and Hèctor López Bofill was founded in 2007. Since then it has summoned a number of lawmakers, professors, businessmen, professionals, economists, journalists and intellectuals for the cause of Catalonia's independence.

In Spain, some considered this current to have have been stimulated as a reaction especially against the policy of the latter Spanish governments of the Partido Popular party, and its opposition to certain legislative reforms such as the new proposal of Statute of Catalonia.


Query on Catalonia independence

On 13th of December of 2009, non-official queries on Catalan independence are being carried out[14][15][16] in 167[17] towns, villages and 5 Comarcal council covering more than 700.000[18] citizens with 15.000 volunteers[19], following the first one celebrated in Arenys de Munt in the 13th of September, 30[20] international observers has been acredited, like the eurodeputies (Jill Evans from Plaid Cymru, Frieda Brepoels from Flanders, François Alfonsi from Corse and Oriol Junqueras from Catalonia) [21]

Studies on social support to independentism in Catalonia

Polls on the matter are troublesome as the question of independence is not on the daily political agenda, something which may be distorting replies from the interviewed. What is more, polls from different institutions vary greatly.

Still, some sources suggest a core support of no more than a fifth of Catalans adhering to the idea of independence[22].

The position of Catalans regarding the independence of either Catalonia or of the Catalan Countries must be studied taking into account an important fact, namely, that a huge number of Catalan citizens are of immigrant origin and feel little or no connection to the Catalan language or to Catalan traditional culture. It has been reckoned that the total population of Catalonia with no migrations would have grown from 2 million people in 1900 to just 2.4 million in 1980,[23] merely 39% of the actual population of 6.1 million at that date. This population has continued growing and was over 7.4 million in 2009.


A few institutions have performed polls which also include questions on the independence issue in Catalonia. The following are the most prominent ones: (1) Center for Social Research (Centro de Investigaciones Sociales CIS) which belongs to the Spanish government, (2) Social and Political Sciencies Institute of Barcelona (Institut de Ciències Polítiques i Socials ICPS) belonging to the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Diputation of Barcelona, and (3) Center for Opinion Studies (Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió CEO), depending on the Economy Department of the Generalitat of Catalonia.

CIS performed a poll in Catalonia on 2001, including an explicit question on independence with the following results: 35.9% supporting it, 48.1% opposing, 13.3% indifferent, 2.8% did not reply[citation needed].

ICPS performs annually an opinion poll since 1989, which always includes a section on independence.

All in all, polls seem to indicate an ambivalent and far from universal feeling. For example, the 2007 ICPS poll indicated that, when asked about the independence of Catalonia, 51% of the population would be against it, 32% would favour it, while 17% do not have an opinion, but, in this same poll, when asked about the meaning of Spain, only 5% of the interviewed identified with the downright independentist option ("Spain is an alien State of which my country is not a part").[24]

The results are in the following table:

Year Support (%) Against (%) Indifferent (%) Do not reply (%)
1991 35 50 11 4
1992 31 53 11 5
1993 37 50 9 5
1994 35 49 14 3
1995 36 52 10 3
1996 29 56 11 4
1997 32 52 11 5
1998 32 55 10 3
1999 32 55 10 3
2000 32 53 13 3
2001 33 55 11 1
2002 34 52 12 1
2003* 43 43 12 1
2004* 39 44 13 3
2005 36 44 15 6
2006 33 48 17 2
2007 31.7 51.3 14.1 2.9
  • On 2003 and 2004 a different methodology was used (telephonic instead of door-to-door interview).

CEO performs regular polls studying political opinion of Catalan citizens. The following table contains the answers to the question "Which kind of political entity should Catalonia be with respect to Spain?"[25]:

Date Independent state (%) State in a federal Spain (%) Spanish autonomous community (%) Spanish region (%) Do not know (%) Do not reply (%)
June 2005 13.6 31.3 40.8 7.0 6.2 1.1
November 2005 12.9 35.8 37.6 5.6 6.9 1.2
March 2006 13.9 33.4 38.2 8.1 5.1 1.2
July 2006 14.9 34.1 37.3 6.9 6.1 0.7
October 2006 14.0 32.9 38.9 8.3 5.1 0.8
November 2006 15.9 32.8 40.0 6.8 3.7 0.8
March 2007 14.5 35.3 37.0 6.1 4.9 2.2
July 2007 16.9 34.0 37.3 5.5 5.4 1.0
October 2007 18.5 34.2 35.0 4.7 6.0 1.5
December 2007 17.3 33.8 37.8 5.1 5.0 1.0
January 2008 19.4 36.4 34.8 3.8 4.1 1.6
May 2008 17.6 33.4 38.9 5.1 4.3 0.7
July 2008 16.1 34.7 37.0 6.1 5.2 0.9
November 2008 17.4 31.8 38.3 7.1 4.2 1.2
February 2009[26] 16.1 35.2 38.6 4.5 3.6 2.0
May 2009[27] 20.9 35.0 34.9 4.4 3.0 1.7
July 2009[28] 19.0 32.2 36.8 6.2 4.2 1.6
December 2009[29] 21.6 29.9 36.9 5.9 4.1 1.6
February 2010[30] 19.4 29.5 38.2 6.9 4.4 1.6

The independentist question in the other Catalan-speaking territories

The question of independence has not been polled so far in other Catalan-speaking territories outside of Catalonia, but anecdotal evidence (basically the total absence of the independentist question in those territories) suggests that there is no sizeable support for the idea of independence of the Catalan-speaking territories outside of Catalonia.

See also

References and Footnotes

  1. ^ The Catalan and Spanish language equivalents of the words separatism and independentism are politically loaded in Spain. Catalan Nationalists avoid terms such as separatisme or secesionisme and always prefer independentisme.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Sala-i-Martin's Independence". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ New York Times Catalans Vote In "Referendum" on Independence
  15. ^ Chicago Tribune Villages in Spain's Catalonia region hold nonbinding vote on independence
  16. ^ Daily Telegraph Catalonia holds referendums to push for independence from Spain
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Premium content". 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  23. ^ "Anna Cabré: ''Immigration and welfare state'' (in Catalan)" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió Poll results
  26. ^ Baròmetre d'Opinió Política. Febrer 2009
  27. ^ Baròmetre d'Opinió Política. Maig 2009
  28. ^ Baròmetre d'Opinió Política. Juliol 2009
  29. ^ Baròmetre d'Opinió Política. Desembre 2009
  30. ^ Baròmetre d'Opinió Política. Febrer 2010

External links


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