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Opposition to Catalonia’s independence would win for first time since 2012

For the first time in the last two years, the number of people opposing independence from Spain would be more than those supporting the separation, according to an opinion poll released on Friday by the Catalan Government’s Survey Institute (CEO). 45.3% of the interviewees would oppose independence, while 44.5% would support it. According to the CEO’s Director, Jordi Argelaguet, these figures indicate “a technical draw”, since there is only a 9-person difference out of the 1,000 interviews carried out in early December, following the 9 November’s symbolic self-determination vote. However, the figures show two important trends: the higher mobilisation of citizens opposing independence and the slight decrease of support for independence. 7.5% of those interviewed would be undecided and 2.8% preferred not to answer the question.

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19 December 2014 09:15 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- For the first time in the last two years, the number of people opposing independence from Spain would be more than those supporting the separation, according to an opinion poll released on Friday by the Catalan Government’s Survey Institute (CEO). 45.3% of the interviewees would oppose independence, while 44.5% would support it. According to the CEO’s Director, Jordi Argelaguet, these figures indicate “a technical draw”, since there is only a 9-person difference out of the 1,000 interviews carried out in early December, following the 9 November’s symbolic self-determination vote. However, the figures show two important trends: the higher mobilisation of citizens opposing independence and the slight decrease of support for independence. 7.5% of those interviewed would be undecided and 2.8% preferred not to answer the question “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent State?” 


The poll released on Friday by the CEO has shaken Catalan politics since it shows a crucial change in trend for the first time in the last two years. The number of those supporting independence (44.5%) remains in the lowest range of the last two years, when it has ranged from 43% to 57%. In the last survey released by the CEO in October, those supporting independence accounted for 49.4% of Catalans.

However, the greatest change is the mobilisation of those who would vote against independence in the last few weeks, particularly after November’s symbolic vote and the real scenario of holding early elections transformed into a ‘de facto’ independence referendum. Opposition to independence had been increasing from the 25% posted three years ago to the 32.3% posted in October. However, in early December people who would vote ‘no’ reached 45.3%, overtaking the ‘yes’ side for the first time since 2012.

Argelaguet highlighted that the question about independence had slightly changed from previous polls. Earlier, interviewees were asked about their voting intention in a hypothetical referendum or consultation vote. Now, the question was broader, asking whether citizens would “want Catalonia to become an independent State”. The CEO Director acknowledged that the poll shows that both sides are “virtually in a draw”. According to him, “the political debate of the coming months will define the majorities”.

Independence falls as the preferred option 

Furthermore, the poll included a second question about which was the preferred option regarding the possible relationship between Catalonia and Spain. The December poll shows another important factor: independence continues to be the main option, but it has significantly decreased. In October, 45.3% of Catalans  preferred full independence, while in December this option was only preferred by 36.2%, still ahead of all the others but having lost 9 percentage points of direct support. Meanwhile, 26.9% would prefer a Catalan State within a federal or confederated Spain; therefore, having greater powers for Catalonia but remaining within Spain. In October, 22.3% of the people were in support of this option. Finally, 21.8% would support the current Autonomous Community model and only 5.4% would like a recentralisation of powers.

According to Argelaguet, a possible explanation of these trends is that an increasing number believes there will be a great political change at Spanish level, with the People’s Party (PP) losing the absolute majority and probably also control of the government. In fact, according to Argelaguet, if the PP were to win the Spanish elections again, support for independence would increase once again.

Either the CiU or ERC would win the next Catalan elections, while Podemos would also make an appearance

The CEO poll also included the voting intentions for both the Catalan and Spanish elections. There are two main highlights: a draw between the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the main opposition party, the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC. The other highlight is the arrival of the alternative left party in the Catalan Parliament, which would have a significant impact on the other parties, since part of the protest vote and the support of people who want to change the current situation would go to the party created at Spanish level in early 2014.

The CiU would win the elections with 21.9% of the direct vote, getting 34 or 36 MPs into the 135-seat Catalan Parliament. The polls issued during the last months already pointed out CiU’s great loss of seats, since currently it has 50 MPs. However, in December’s poll, the CiU would improve its situation in comparison with the last few months, when polls were predicting worse results for the governing coalition.

The current poll still asks citizens about the CiU, but does not ask about individual support for the Liberal CDC and the Christian-Democrats UDC, which form the coalition. Taking into account that the CDC supports independence and the UDC supports self-determination but has doubts about independence, it is likely that both parties would run separately in the next Catalan elections. In fact, the current union is likely to affect the CiU’s global electoral support.

In the current poll, the ERC would not win the elections, as was the case in the last ones. It would receive 21% of the vote, just below that which the CiU would receive. However, it would also get between 34 and 36 MPs, while in the last Catalan elections – held in November 2012 – it got 21 seats.

The populist and anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) would become the third-largest party, obtaining 14 or 16 MP seats. Currently, C’s has 9 seats and it is the 6th largest party. C’s would continue to receive votes from the Spanish nationalist and conservative People’s Party (PP) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). In fact, the PSC would only get between 13 and 14 MPs, while in the last elections it obtained 20 seats, and the PP would get between 11 and 12 seats, while currently it has 19 MPs.

Podemos would sit in the Catalan Parliament for the first time, obtaining between 9 and 11 seats. The arrival of Podemos undermines the PSC’s support and that of the Catalan green socialist and post-communist coalition, ICV-EUiA, which would get between 7 and 8 seats. Currently, the ICV-EUiA has 13 MPs. Finally, the alternative left and radical independence party CUP – whose main difference with Podemos is clear support for independence – would get between 7 and 8 seats.

Regarding elections to the Spanish Parliament, Podemos would be the most-voted party in Catalonia, which represents a major surprise. Podemos would obtain 20.4% of direct support, obtaining between 10 and 11 seats. The CiU would obtain 18.8% of direct support and would get 11 and 12 seats, as it has better results in rural areas. The ERC would get between 8 and 9 MPs; the PSC, between 6 and 7; the PP, either 4 or 5; C’s, 2; and, ICV-EUiA, 1 or 2.

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  • A woman voting in Tarragona on November 9's symbolic vote on independence (by R. Segura)

  • A woman voting in Tarragona on November 9's symbolic vote on independence (by R. Segura)