The polls I have seen showcase that at least 40%, perhaps a bit more, of the Catalan population oppose independence.

Yet, in the last few days and weeks, all I've heard is 4 types of people talking about this matter:

  1. Pro-independence Catalans
  2. Anti-independence non-Catalan Spaniards
  3. Pro-independence foreigners who seem to talk a lot about this issue without knowing much about it.
  4. Neutral observes who call it an "internal matter"

But where are the anti-independence foreigners joined by anti-independence Catalans? Why are they not being heard? 40% is a huge number. Why is their opinion not represented?

  • Can you link to the polls you've seen? I have heard on bbc r4 vox-pops with Spaniards in Catalonia who oppose independence.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 20:07
  • 2
    politico.eu/article/… This is from 1 year ago. 42 % wish to remain.
    – user17269
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 20:10
  • 7
    is there evidence that they are indeed silent? (as opposed to, for example, you being in a self-selected media bubble as is often common in modern politics)
    – user4012
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 20:35
  • Agree with @user4012; I’m rather sure I read of a march of anti-separatists in Barcelona, but I can’t find the article now. However, I found this article which suggests that people may prefer to keep silent because they risk (verbal) abuse from pro-separatists.
    – chirlu
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 8:22
  • It's worth noting that 4 days after this question was asked there was a march of (depending on who's counting) 350000 to 950000 people in Barcelona against independence, organised by Societat Civil Catalana. Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 18:06

3 Answers 3


You needn't a political movement to force your country's police do their job

Apologies for a bit of bold title (in both senses), but this is precisely the answer.

In most national-liberation movements, the "pro-" secession faction is more active than their opponents. That's because the separatists need changes, while their opponents prefer to keep things the way how they are. In other words, if someone is "anti-"secession, they almost automatically become "pro-" the existing order:

Type of government.
Country's affiliations and memberships (cf. the EU).
Law and Order.

Which is precisely the job of the National police, National Security service, etc.

Unless the anti-secession Catalans suspect their police of neglecting its duties, there's no need to protest. There are numerous reports that the Spanish police was not passive recently.

Also, the impression of "so silent" can be made because foreigners often look at the mass protests, street violence, and similar events. However, there are several political parties in Parliament of Catalonia who continue political struggle.
For one, "Citizens" is known for its opposition to Catalonian nationalism and the secession.
The above would also answer the question, "Why is their opinion not represented?" — in fact, they are represented.

  • Nice answer. I would like to add that traditionally the most vocal opponents to anything even remotely linked to Catalanism have, how to say, a lot of "political baggage" that dates back to Francisco Franco's dictatorship and a message that is not only against independence but also against many of the rights of self-government granted to the Generalitat. This has often given cold feet to other anti-independentist political parties that do not share the last part of the message, in a situation were there was no pressing need to form an alliance (because the status quo was ok).
    – SJuan76
    Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 17:32
  • I was in Barcelona during the referendum and I saw the pictures of crying Catalan police officers. And I saw the Spanish national police beating people with batons, including the elderly, just because they wanted to vote. The politicians who organized the vote are still in prison. And somehow all that we focus on is China. Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 1:00
  • See also Northern Ireland and Scotland. Very vocal independence movements, despite actual votes being against it. Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 7:47

Why are they not being heard? 40% is a huge number. Why is their opinion not represented?

Quite possibly because they don't care as much. I.e. when asked the question, they say, "I'd prefer Catalonia stay a part of Spain", but they don't have nearly as strong of feelings as the pro-secession people. As we can see, they overwhelmingly stayed home.

Similarly, foreigners who don't approve of secession are unlikely to feel strongly about Catalan secession. What they really want is to oppose secession at home. Opposing Catalan secession doesn't really get them closer to that. If anything, it might provide another reason for domestic secessionists to condemn them. Meanwhile, foreigners who support secession can talk in high-minded terms about things like self-determination.

Opposing secession is more dependent on individual issues. For example, if the United Kingdom secedes from the European Union (as is in progress), what actually happens? Do they face higher tariffs? Will their citizens who were EU employees lose their pensions? Will EU countries give UK citizens visas? We've talked about some of those issues in regards to Brexit. That discussion is only starting for Catalonia. The Spanish government has concentrated on constitutional issues rather than issues of practicality.

A foreigner, or even a Catalan native, who opposes Catalan secession may not know what these issues are for Catalonia yet. As such, what would they have to say?

Perhaps Catalonia will have a unity movement where secession opponents can concentrate themselves, making it easier for the media to find them and ask them questions. But until now, opponents seem to have concentrated more on avoiding admitting such a possibility.

Currently, it's easy to find proponents. They're celebrating in the streets and holding signs. When (if) opponents organize like that, we're likely to hear more from them.

  • 2
    The media are not so ignorant as to be unable to find any of the 47% of the members of the Parlament who are against secession. If they're not being quoted in the press it's because their soundbites are less interesting than the people who are being quoted. Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 9:38

I'd be very suspicious that the anti-independence side is being 'silent', it's much more likely that the media finds the violence of the separatists to be more appealing from a ratings standpoint. The same reason you don't see a great deal of positive reporting in general, it's not that everything in the world is bad, I'd argue that the amount of 'feel good' events actually exceeds the bad, but the minority of violent awful things is what gets a microscope placed on it.

Might also be worth investigating the demographics of both 'groups', people who don't like the status quo are usually those without any vested interest in it. While the average rioter might not have a nice job, or anything else that they fear losing, the remainers very likely do. The fact that leavers are willing to commit violence against the opposition is another strong incentive /not/ to make it known that you're part of the opposition. I vehemently disagree with Antifa's antics on our side of the atlantic, but I wouldn't risk my job by going out to meet them on the streets, or try to stick my neck out and risk being targeted, it's simply not worth it.

The average person is more than capable of weighing risk vs reward for themselves, there isn't yet any reason for the anti-independence crowd to stand up and shout, the risks are simply not worth the negligible reward. The spanish constitution to my understanding makes any independence illegal without the mutual support of the much larger majority that won't support it. At this point, it's a police action that needs invoked, political action isn't even necessary for their side to win if legality is the metric that determines this 'crisis'. If anything, engaging them politically is just as liable to lend more legitimacy to them, even if I don't think the average person involved in this will think of that when making their decision to remain 'silent'.

Worth pointing out that a google search for "anti-independence rally spain" brought up numerous results over the last few days. The events are presumably happening, even getting reported on, but not given prime time on whatever news network you are following(my first paragraph is likely why).



  • 3
    the media finds the violence of the separatists to be more appealing from a ratings standpoint – That the separatists are particularly violent is a statement that needs evidence. The national police made news by acting violently against polling stations; otherwise the situation seems mostly non-violent.
    – chirlu
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 15:29
  • @Chirlu They don't need to be more or less violent for my statement to hold true. The underdog freedom fighter has been a trope that the media has loved for far longer than I've been alive. Far as the police violence, my understanding of the situation was that the government had ordered them out of the unsanctioned polling areas, and then forcefully removed them when that didn't work. It's still violence, but arguably legal violence when police enforce the law. Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 15:53
  • Agreed with @chirlu In this particular case, it is precisely the separatism who has received the violence from the Spanish police.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 19:49
  • I can't find independent stats. El País reports that the Catalan health service said 800+ people received medical attention. La Vanguardia reports that the Ministry of the Interior claims 431 police were injured, of whom 39 needed immediate medical treatment. It's not clear whether the 39 are included in the 800+, how many of the 800+ were injured, or what the MinInt definition is. It's interesting to compare the 431 with 196 police injured in the first day of the Hamburg riots in July: perhaps there were more police deployed, or they were less well equipped? But that's getting off topic. Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 20:52

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