First Catalan Poll Gives Slight Lead to Anti-Independence Parties

Pro-unity supporters take part in a big demonstration in central Barcelona, Spain, October 29.Pro-unity supporters take part in a big demonstration in central Barcelona, Spain, October 29.

Political parties opposing a split by Catalonia from Spain had a small lead in an opinion poll published on Sunday, the first since Madrid called a regional election to try to resolve the crisis over Catalan demands for independence.

The poll of 1,000 people by Sigma Dos for newspaper El Mundo, which opposes independence for the wealthy northern region, showed anti-independence parties winning 43.4% support and pro-independence parties 42.5%, Reuters reported.

Catalans will vote for a new regional parliament on Dec. 21. Spain’s central government called the election on Friday, when it also sacked the regional president Carles Puigdemont and dismissed his government.

The Catalan government —which is still claiming to hold power— says it was given a mandate to secede from Spain in an unofficial referendum held on Oct. 1.

The ballot was declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court and has been largely discredited because turnout was only an unverified 43 percent as most opponents of independence stayed at home.

Sunday’s opinion poll was taken from Monday to Thursday, just as the central government was preparing to take control of Catalonia.

  Unity March

Meanwhile, defenders of Spanish unity massed in the streets of Catalonia’s capital Barcelona Sunday, waving national and European flags and chanting “Viva Espana” two days after regional lawmakers voted to sever the region from Spain, AFP reported.

Protesters flocked in their tens of thousands through Barcelona’s streets, in a sea of red-and-yellow Spanish flags, brandishing placards reading “De Todos” (It belongs to all of us).

“We are all Catalonia,” proclaimed a massive banner as the crowd chanted “Prison for Puigdemont”, and “Long live Spain”.

As the march got under way, the deputy president of the deposed Catalan government lashed out at Madrid over what he called a “coup d’etat”.

“The president of the country is and will remain Carles Puigdemont,” the axed leader’s deputy Oriol Junqueras wrote in Catalan newspaper El Punt Avui.

Junqueras used the word “country” to refer to Catalonia, and signed off as the region’s “vice president”.


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