The Spanish region of Catalonia has been celebrating its national day known as ‘La Diada’ amid demonstrations and renewed calls for independence.
The protesters hope to revive their push for secession after huge marches last year. Catalan President Artur Mas is determined to hold a referendum in 2014, despite it not being permitted by the Spanish constitution.
Speaking on Tuesday night he said: “The people of Catalonia should be consulted next year on their political future.”
He added that he is “firm” in his “promise of giving Catalans the right to choose their political future” and is “determined to use all the democratic and legal measures available so that Catalans can decide their future as a country”.
The People’s Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy decided to boycott all the official celebrations in Catalonia for the first time in its history. The regional leader of the party, Alicia Sanchez Camacho, has been heavily critical of Mas and the independence movement.
Speaking in Barcelona on Wednesday she said: “There are millions of Catalans who feel like orphans because they don’t have a government because it has put all its focus on the separatism movement and the independence of Catalonia.”
Relations between Madrid and Barcelona have improved in recent months with both Mas and Rajoy expressing a willingness for dialogue.
The Spanish prime minister said last week he hoped “reasonable things could be done with Catalonia”.