The Self-Determination Movement
The movement for self-determination is a peaceful, broad, social movement which does not depend on political parties. Two huge protest marches took place in Barcelona. The first one, in 2010, was attended by around 1 million people; the second, in 2012, by around 1.5 million, making it one of the largest ever to take place in Europe. There have also been many civil society campaigns: despite legal restrictions being applied, 890.000 citizens participated in unofficial consultations held in towns throughout Catalonia. Ever-more Town Halls are passing resolutions in favour of independence: currently 654 have done so (68% of the total). Together, these protests have changed the political landscape in Catalonia.
The realignment of politics means that the political situation is not always easy to interpret. Following Catalan elections in November 2012, the Spanish media made much of the fact that the ruling party lost votes and seats. But the key issue was whether a consultation should be held.Â And with a record level of participation of 70%, parties supporting a consultation (irrespective of whether they would vote for independence or for federal reform) won 74% of the vote. Parties against it won 20%. In March 2013, a resolution calling on the Catalan Government to negotiate with the Spanish Government in order to hold a referendum was supported by 77% of the MPs in the Catalan Parliament.
As to support for independence itself, the polls have shown consistent results since last summer.Â For example, the latest survey by the Catalan agency for public opinion, published in February 2013, found 54.7% of respondents would vote yes if a consultation were held tomorrow; 20.7% would vote no; 17% would not vote; and the rest were undecided. If such results were reflected in a referendum, then on an 83% turn-out, 66% would vote in favour of independence.