Thousands of Catalan separatists took to the streets of Barcelona on Monday to celebrate the region’s national day, known as the Diada, and to demand a new referendum on independence and amnesty for the jailed leaders of the 2017 secession attempt.
The demonstration, organized by the main pro-independence civil groups, was attended by the Catalan president Pere Aragones and other regional authorities, as well as representatives of the two main separatist parties: the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and Together for Catalonia (JuntsxCat).
The rally coincided with the ongoing negotiations between the acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the Catalan parties, whose support is crucial for him to form a new government after the inconclusive election in July.
The exiled former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium after the referendum in 2017, issued a statement last week setting tough conditions for his party’s backing of Sanchez, including dropping all judicial actions against the separatists and allowing a new vote on independence.
Aragones, who heads the ERC, also called for a new referendum in his Diada speech on Sunday, saying that “an amnesty alone will not resolve the sovereignty conflict with the state”.
However, he also said that Catalonia had “the key to the governance of the state” and urged to use this power to achieve what was not possible before.
The conservative People’s Party (PP), which won the most votes in July but fell short of a majority, has also opposed any concessions to the separatists. The PP leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo will try to form a government on Sept. 27, but his chances are slim without the support of the far-right Vox party.