It is Catalonia’s national day, and breakaway politicians in the northestern Spanish region are rubbing their hands at an upswing in support for independence and the prospect of over a million marching in the streets of Barcelona for freedom from rule from Madrid.
The moderate nationalist CiU government which has ruled for 25 of the 33 years of Spanish modern democracy, has been wrong-footed. President Artur Mas said he would boycott the rally before deciding to join it.
“If there is no agreement on our economic demands you know that the way for Catlunya to go free is open,” he said.
The region is Spain’s most dynamic and many complain its taxes subsidise less deserving areas, or never return from Madrid in public spending.
“We want to be a country inside Europe and all the money to stay here. We have our own language, we have our own culture and we are fed up. Enough,” said one young marcher.
In the five years since the financial crisis began support for outright Catalonian independence has doubled, and now stands at over fifty percent. It already enjoys wide-ranging autonomous powers in Spain’s federal system.