Between 150,000 and 700,000 attendees in National Day pro-independence rally, says local police

Figures surpasses between 108,000 to 400,000 rally-goers in 2021 estimated by same entities

Thousands of people taking to the streets in central Barcelona on 2022 Catalonia's National Day (by Jordi Borràs)
Thousands of people taking to the streets in central Barcelona on 2022 Catalonia's National Day (by Jordi Borràs) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 11, 2022 07:29 PM

Around 150,000 people gathered in the annual National Day pro-independence rally in Barcelona, according to the local police.

Thus, the march was joined by 42,000 more people than last year, when the local police estimated that 108,000 had protested for independence on the National Day in Barcelona.

Yet, the organizing grassroots organization, ANC, raised the figure to 700,000, which means 300,000 more than their calculations in 2021.

The rally began in Paral·lel avenue and ended in the Estació de França station, by the Ciutadella Park, where the Catalan parliament is located. 

The atmosphere was at all times cheerful and peaceful, with chants of independence, against governing parties, and some attendees supporting former president Carles Puigdemont.

When the event ended, ANC's president Dolors Feliu demanded "independence or elections" to the two parties in cabinet, which are also favoring a split from Spain.

During her speech, she hinted at the creation of a new party and many rally-goers spontaneously chanted "government, step down."

President absent for first time since 2015

President Aragonès did not attend the event "because it is against [pro-independence] parties and not against Spain." This is a major evidence that campaigners for a split with Spain are divided between those prioritizing talks with Madrid, including Aragonès, and those who say confrontation would be a much more effective way ahead. 

Indeed, the official manifesto for the protest, organized by grassroots organization ANC, criticizes the handling of the independence campaign by the parties leading it.

It is the first time since 2015 that a Catalan president fails to attend the march. 

Center-right nationalist CDC party leader, Artur Mas, was the Catalan president in 2012, when the first National Day mass pro-independence demonstration was held – yet, the leader, who transitioned from asking for a referendum to be openly for a split during his tenure, never attended the march while in office to preserve his institutional role. 

In the 2016 and 2017 editions, the president was Carles Puigdemont, member of the same party (before it disappeared giving way to PDeCat) and more explicitly pro-independence, attended the event, as his successor Quim Torra, appointed by himself, did in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 editions. 

In 2021, left-wing also pro-independence president Pere Aragonès joined the rally, but he did not repeat in 2022.


Every September 11, the attendance in the demonstration has been one of the key facts to know the level of engagement among Catalans over the independence campaign. 

The rally in 2014 marks the peak number of attendees, with 1.8 million, according to the local police, which stood for almost a quarter of the total population in the country. 

Yet, these numbers have been declining especially after the referendum and independence push in October 2017, with the pandemic also playing its role.