This month, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy offered to hold talks with Catalonia but did not offer a vote on independence for the Spanish region whose citizens have long sought greater autonomy. In an email interview, Elisenda Paluzie, a professor of economic theory at the University of Barcelona, explained the state of the Catalan independence movement.
WPR: What is the state of the Catalan independence movement in terms of its degree of organization and level of popular support?
Elisenda Paluzie: On one hand, there is an important grassroots movement for independence, which has strong popular support and is very diverse ideologically, gathering people from across the political spectrum. This social movement organized a symbolic referendum on independence, held in several waves in 554 towns including Barcelona, that brought almost 1 million people to the polls from September 2009 to April 2011. Some 92 percent of those who voted favored independence. Later, through territorial assemblies, the pro-independence movement organized massive a demonstration in Barcelona on Sept. 11, 2012, and a year later pro-independence demonstrators formed a human chain of some 250 miles, traversing Catalonia from north to south. Both events gathered more than 1 million people—Catalonia's population is 7.5 million.