Thousands of Catalans crowd Barcelona to call for early elections

Demands follow Madrid’s declaring of independence referendum illegal

More than 100,000 people attended the demonstration in Barcelona, according to media reports.  Photograph: Reuters/Albert Gea.

More than 100,000 people attended the demonstration in Barcelona, according to media reports. Photograph: Reuters/Albert Gea.

 

Tens of thousands of Catalans crowded central Barcelona yesterday calling for early regional elections after plans for a November 9th referendum on independence from Spain were declared illegal by Madrid.

People dressed in yellow T-shirts waved the red and yellow Catalan independence flag, marked with a white star, and bore banners reading “Now is the time” and “We are ready”.

Some in the separatist movement want Catalonia’s leader, Artur Mas, to call early regional elections as a proxy vote on secession, a move likely to benefit the more radical independence party ERC, a coalition partner of Mas’s CiU party.

“President, call elections, we want to vote in the next three months. We want to start in the spring of 2015 with a new parliament,” said Carme Forcadell, head of the pro-independence National Catalan Assembly as she addressed the crowds.

More than 100,000 people attended the demonstration, according to media reports. Police could not be reached to confirm this figure.

Consultation of citizens

The Spanish government last month asked the constitutional court to declare the referendum planned for November 9th illegal on the grounds it breached the constitution. The court suspended the vote until it ruled on the case, which could take years.

About half of Catalans want more independence from Spain and a vast majority favour holding a vote on their future, polls show. – (Reuters)