Thousands of people were expected to celebrate Catalonia’s National Day on Monday as the Spanish region’s separatist parties appear set to play a kingmaker role in forming a national government.
In recent years, attendance at La Diada, as the National Day is known, has fallen as support for breaking away from Spain has decreased. But with two Catalan parties poised to play a role in forming a new government, it may boost the independence cause.
“Catalonia has the key to the governance of the state. We have today to take advantage of this power to make possible what was not possible,” Pere Aragones, the Catalan leader who heads Esquerra Republicana Catalana party (ERC), the more moderate left-wing separatist party, said on Sunday in Barcelona.
Former regional leader Carles Puigdemont, living in Belgium as a fugitive from Spanish justice for attempting secession five years ago, laid out tough conditions for his party’s support in parliament for Socialist Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to stay in power.
Sanchez would need the seven lawmakers in Puigdemont’s hardline conservative Junts per Catalunya party to form a government following an election in July.
This past week Puigdemont called for Spain to abandon judicial actions against separatists, though he stopped short of demanding a new vote on independence.
Isabel Rodriguez, the acting government spokeswoman, said Spain would not do anything which contravenes the constitution.
Alberto Nunez Feijoo, whose conservative People’s Party (PP) won the most votes on July 23, will take the first stab at a vote to form a government on Sept. 27, but his chances are seen as slim since the PP opposes any concessions to separatists.
In July, a survey published by the Catalan Centre for Public Opinion (CEO), operated by the regional government, found 52% opposed splitting from Spain while 42% supported independence.
In October 2017, when Puigdemont’s separatist regional government held a referendum declared illegal by the Spanish courts, a CEO poll found 49% supported splitting from Spain while 43% were against. Many of those opposed to independence boycotted the referendum.