Hundreds of thousands of Catalans will rally on the streets of Barcelona on Tuesday to renew their calls for independence almost a year after the unilateral referendum that triggered Spain’s worst political crisis since its return to democracy after the death of Franco.
The issue of independence remains divisive in the region, however, with polls suggesting that Catalans are almost evenly split on whether to remain part of Spain.
The annual Diada celebrations commemorate the fall of Barcelona during the Spanish war of succession on 11 September 1714, but in recent years they have been used by pro-independence groups as a show of strength.
Two of the main anti-independence parties boycotted Tuesday morning’s wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of Rafael Casanova, hero of the siege of Barcelona in 1714 when the city fell to Spanish forces led by the Duke of Berwick, illegitimate son of James II.
Citizens, the single largest party in the Catalan parliament, and the smaller People’s party stayed away on the grounds that it was sectarian.
The Catalan Socialist party (PSC) has also withdrawn from the Diada’s institutional events for the first time this year. The opposition parties argue it has become a celebration that excludes half the population.
Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, attended the ceremony but said she would not take part in the march later in the day because it explicitly demanded independence and therefore only represented half the Catalan population. “As mayor I have a duty to seek consensus,” she said.