About four hundred thousand Catalans marched through the centre of Barcelona on Tuesday (11 September) in celebration of the national day of their north-east Spanish region.
About four hundred thousand Catalans marched through the centre of Barcelona on Tuesday (11 September) in celebration of the national day of their north-east Spanish region. But the recently-announced autonomy proposals for Catalonia remained controversial.
SYNOPSIS: Barcelona is the capital for the Catalans. For the first time in nearly 40 years their march celebrated the approach of self-government for their culturally and industrially rich region. They sang, clapped and chanted as they thronged the streets of Barcelona. The last effort by the central government to introduce a separate statute for Catalonia occurred before the conflicts of 1934 and 1936-to-37, and it failed. This time the Catalans are hopeful of a more successful attempt.
The main reason why many of the Catalans see reason for celebration concerns an autonomy agreement reached between the Madrid government and Catalan politicians last month (August). It would give the region control of education, permit a gradual move towards financial autonomy and make catalan an official language alongside spanish. The Catalan Statute of Autonomy was expected to be subject to a referendum next month (October 25).
An estimated fifteen hundred counter-demonstrators claimed that the autonomy proposals do not go far enough. And observers believe the degree to which Catalan politicians can assist Spain's ruling Union de Centro Democratico party to retain its majority will depend on how well home rule can be made a reality.