Watch: Internal divisions highlighted on Catalonia's National Day

Watch: Internal divisions highlighted on Catalonia's National Day
Copyright  REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo
Copyright  REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/File Photo
By Marta Rodriguez MartinezCristina Abellan-Matamoros
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Catalonia celebrates on Wednesday its National Day despite internal divisions between the region's independentist parties.


The overarching objective is always independence, but this year's Catalonia's annual commemorative day reflected the internal divisions between the different regional independent parties at odds with Madrid.

The Diada, or national day of Catalonia, has been celebrated every September 11 since 1886 - and since 2012 has been marked by calls for independence.

The day was still marked by a push for independence backed by the current government with a protest around 16h CEST marking the day that Barcelona surrendered to King Philip V of Bourbon, after 13 months of resisting the siege of his troops in 1714.

The majority of protesters congregated in Plaza de España, in the centre of Barcelona, which the protest organisers want to make the centre of "strategic unity to achieve the common goal of independence."

But participation was lower than in recent years, in part due to the strong independence pressure that has seriously shaken Catalan and Spanish society.

Local police in Barcelona said 600,000 people participated in the demonstration down from one million last year.

A poll published in July by a public Catalan institute showed support for an independent Catalonia at its lowest level in two years, with 48.3% of people against and 44% in favour.

Assemblea Nacional Catalana, the grassroots organization behind Wednesday's march, said the lack of a clear separatist road-map could be to blame at a time when pro-independence parties are divided on what to do next.

Read More: What is the Diada of Catalonia and why is it important this year?

The importance of the Diada in Catalonia

Since 2012, the celebration has brought together numerous protests calling for Catalonia’s independence.

That year, over a million people, armed with Catalan flags and banners claiming independence, took to the streets of central Barcelona.

The following year, pro-independence protesters joined hands to form a human chain between the borders of Catalonia. And in 2014, almost two million people formed a giant “V” in Barcelona, ​​calling for a vote on independence in the 9N referendum (November 9, 2014), also declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court.

The Diada of 2017 was key to legitimising the October 1st referendum on independence by the Catalan government but declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court.

“We will make this day the greatest mobilisation,” said Jordi Sánchez, former president of the National Assembly of Catalonia who now awaits in jail the final result of his trial.

A final ruling by Spain's Supreme Court on the trial of 12 Catalan separatist leaders — nine of them in jail — facing charges of rebellion, sedition, and misappropriation of public funds for the independence referendum and the failed 2017 independence bid, is expected soon in October.

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