Despite the Spanish Government ruling that Catalonia’s proposed independence referendum on October 1 is illegal, hundreds of thousands gathered in Barcelona to show support for the poll.
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The demonstration was held on September 11 – which is Catalonia’s national day, or “La Diada de Catalunya.” The date commemorates the defeat of Catalonian forces in Barcelona during the War of the Spanish Succession and for the past six successive years has featured political rallies for independence.
According to organizers of this year’s rally and Barcelona’s police, one million demonstrators attended the demonstration. Spanish government officials, however, said the turnout was much lower than that.
Although the Spanish government has repeated that the referendum will not go ahead on October 1, the Catalan regional president, Carles Puigdemont, said before the protest, “On Monday we will overwhelm them peacefully and democratically.”
The majority of Catalans want the vote to go ahead to settle the issue of independence, and if it takes place the vote will be very close, according to a BBC report.