Support for Catalan Independence Up, But Most Still Favor Compromise

More Catalans want to break away from Spain, but the majority could still be satisfied with increased autonomy.

Catalans celebrate their National Day in Barcelona, Spain, September 13, 2012
Catalans celebrate their National Day in Barcelona, Spain, September 13, 2012 (Fotomovimiento)

Support for Catalan independence has gone up but remains below 50 percent, according to a survey carried out by the regional government every four months.

Given the choice between independence and the status quo, 48.7 percent of Catalans would now opt to break away against 43.6 percent who want to stay in Spain.

Those figures were 41.1 and 49.4 percent in June, respectively.

Spain’s heavy-handed response to the October 1 referendum, which had been ruled illegal by the Constitutional Court, is most likely to blame for the shift.

Middle way

When becoming a federal state inside Spain and giving up autonomy are added as options, support for independence is still higher: 40 percent, up from 34 percent this summer.

But the combined share of Catalans who are happy with the current regime or want Spain to become a federation is larger: almost 50 percent.

This suggests there is a way out of the crisis: a new autonomy statute, replacing the one that was partly struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2010, that gives Catalonia the same recognition and status as the Basque Country and Navarre. A majority of Catalans would probably vote to approve such a deal, given the chance.

Left-right split

Federalization is popular on the left: 35 percent of Socialist Party and 57 percent of Catalunya Sí que es Pot (which includes Podemos) voters rank it as their first choice.

By contrast, supporters of the liberal Ciudadanos and conservative People’s Party are most satisfied with the status quo: 78 and 52 percent, respectively, favor remaining an autonomous community of Spain.