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According to the latest statistics only 32% of Catalan residents are native speakers of the Catalan language. Therefore I presume that only a third of the population should strongly identify as belonging to a different cultural group.

So why would a native Spanish speaker vote to leave Spain? Wouldn't they strongly associate themselves with Spain as a whole rather than with the Catalan region?

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    There are other counterexamples to your presumption. For example, the 2011 UK survey found 62% of residents of Scotland had no skills in Scots, and even fewer spoke Scottish Gaelic, while 44.7% voted yes on the independence referendum.
    – origimbo
    Oct 4, 2017 at 10:55
  • @origimbo 38% vs 44% is not a large disparity and could be partially explained by some voters abstaining. Oct 4, 2017 at 11:05
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    I think the native language is only part what defines one's nationalistic feeling (if any).
    – Evargalo
    Oct 4, 2017 at 11:52
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    @JonathanReez Scots speakers (all speakers, not only native standard) were 30% rather than 38% (the difference is made up by those with reading skills only). Scottish national identity was much higher again ethnicity.ac.uk/medialibrary/briefings/dynamicsofdiversity/…
    – origimbo
    Oct 4, 2017 at 12:46
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    @JonathanReez What regions exists without their own language dialects? I can't think of many, except if you count those where a dialect used to exist but is almost extinct, such as Brittany.
    – Bregalad
    Oct 4, 2017 at 18:08

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There can be many reasons:

  • They identify themselves with their new culture.
  • They can get political advantages from it. For example, while still a minory, the percentage of Muslims (most of them native Moroccan, Arabic apeakers) in Catalonia is two times higher than the Spanish average. In an independent Catalonia their political weight would be higher than it is now. This is a controversial topic, since some right-winged people accuse the Catalan government of preferring non Spanish speaking immigration as a social engineering strategy, since they're easier to win for the independentist cause than south Americans who speak Spanish and wouldn't need to learn Catalan. A former Catalan President (Pujol) allegedly said that it is easier to integrate Moroccan people than south Americans. There are probably many other minorities hoping to suddenly improve their situation in an unstable situation like the creation of a new state often is.
  • Most Catalans would like to have a referendum. Knowing that the 1-O referendum isn't legal, voting yes can just be a punish vote for not hearing them.
  • Rejection of Spain and their political system: republic instead of monarchy, new political actors instead of the two ones which are ruling Spain since Franco's death.
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    It may not be a new culture. Maybe they are ethnic Catalans whose ancestors stopped speaking Catalan.
    – phoog
    Oct 4, 2017 at 17:08
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    @phoog I think that 40 years dictature is a timeframe too short to forget a language which was still being spoken, but for people coming back from America (exiled after the civil war) it could be true. With "new culture" I meant e.g. the children of Andalusian immigrants who have been raised in Catalonia and identify themselves with the place they've always lived in, instead of their parents place.
    – user17245
    Oct 4, 2017 at 17:43
  • 40 years? Catalonia has been part of Spain for far longer than that. I'm just saying that there may be people who are Catalan despite not speaking the language natively. I don't know how many such people there are.
    – phoog
    Oct 4, 2017 at 18:37
  • @phoog Ah, that way. I though you were speaking about Franco's politics against the Catalan language (mentioned in the comments of the question).
    – user17245
    Oct 4, 2017 at 18:51
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    @phoog, talking about "ethnic Catalans" is opening a whole new can of worms. Oct 5, 2017 at 9:49

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