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Just a quarter of Catalans want to continue with current secession strategy

Weary voters step back from hard-line independence tactics, according to Metroscopia survey for EL PAÍS

A man protests against Madrid's application of emergency powers in Catalonia.
A man protests against Madrid's application of emergency powers in Catalonia. AFP

Many Catalans are growing weary of a pro-independence process that has been dragging on for five years now. A new survey shows that 80% of them want to see a governing team emerge from the December 21 elections that will help heal the wounds created by the politics of division.

There is a desire to make Catalan politics less acrimonious

Only 24% of respondents said they wanted to carry on with the strategy to break away from Spain unilaterally. And, in a key new development, 35% of them would like to see an alliance of the parties that defend the Spanish Constitution – chiefly the Popular Party, the Socialist Party and Ciudadanos – to counter similar possible coalitions by secessionist groups.

The survey, conducted by pollster Metroscopia for EL PAÍS, is the latest expression of exhaustion by a society where disagreement over the independence drive has eroded relationships between family members, friends and workplace colleagues.

Although secessionists are less likely to admit this situation, the survey shows that a majority of them support some form of government that will work to restore social harmony: 58% of voters of CUP, the radical left-wing group that has been actively pushing for secession, said they wanted a government that prioritizes this issue.

The same holds true for two thirds of supporters of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and Junts per Catalunya, a new political platform whose leader is Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan premier who was ousted after illegally declaring independence and who fled to Belgium to avoid the Spanish courts, where he is wanted on charges of rebellion and sedition.

Some Catalans still support alliances based on traditional left-right divisions

This desire to make Catalan politics less acrimonious is most evident among Ciudadanos voters (99%) and supporters of the Catalan Socialist Party (96%).

Meanwhile, 100% of Popular Party (PP) voters, 91% of Ciudadanos voters and 60% of Catalan Socialist Party voters would like to see parties that defend the Constitution come together in a common alliance, much as pro-independence parties came together as Junts pel Sí for the 2015 election.

For their part, separatist parties are already working on building coalitions of their own with a view to December 21. Voters of ERC and Junts per Catalunya – the latest project by Puigdemont’s PDeCAT – widely support such a move. Meanwhile, only 50% of CUP voters are in favor.

Some Catalans still support alliances based on traditional left-right divisions rather than secessionist-unionist beliefs. Around 32% would like to see ERC join the Catalan Socialists and Catalunya en Comú, the Catalan branch of Podemos, in a leftist government.

Around 40% of poll respondents still support a government that would push ahead with independence plans

In any case, separatist sentiment remains strong in the region: around 40% of respondents still support a government formed by ERC, Junts per Catalunya and either CUP or any other party that is willing to press on with the independence push.

But following months of unilateral decisions by separatist officials, many respondents backed the idea of a governing team that will work to find “a negotiated solution with the government of Spain,” rather than break away unilaterally.

English version by Susana Urra.

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