'Catalonia does not have a king': Felipe VI greeted with protests at Barcelona Automobile fair

A few hundred attend pro-independence demonstration outside event inauguration

Hundreds of people at Plaça Espanya protest King Felipe's visit to Barcelona on September 30, 2021 (by Guifré Jordan)
Hundreds of people at Plaça Espanya protest King Felipe's visit to Barcelona on September 30, 2021 (by Guifré Jordan) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 30, 2021 02:41 PM

As has been the case on each and every one of the King of Spain's visits to Catalonia over the past few years, Felipe VI's presence at the Barcelona Automobile fair was greeted with a few hundred pro-independence protesters outside the Fira Montjuïc venue.

Largely peaceful, demonstrators cut off Plaça Espanya square to traffic, waved 'estelada' flags, and held banners that read 'Catalonia does not have a king'. Two Spanish flags were burned.

Although Catalan president Pere Aragonès, of left-wing Esquerra Republicana, did not attend the inaugural event due to a parliamentary debate, he did send a representative of his pro-independence coalition government. Spanish president Pedro Sánchez, on the other hand, was present. 

Why are people protesting?

The pro-independence movement is, by definition, republican. But discontent with the Spanish monarchy has grown following the 2017 independence push as well as numerous revelations concerning the former king's questionable business affairs.

On October 3, 2017, two days after the referendum deemed illegal by Spain and on the day of a general strike throughout Catalonia, Felipe VI gave an unprecedented speech in which he called for unity amongst Spaniards.

His decision to not mention the Spanish police violence that had taken place at polling stations on October 1 and left around 1,000 people injured angered many Catalans, who decried his statement as partisan.

The monarchy and the Spanish government "must apologize for the police violence on the day of the referendum, the king's infamous speech two days later, and step down," charged Gerard Pijoan of Òmnium, one of Catalonia's major pro-independence civil society groups. 

Automobile Barcelona: More electric vehicles than ever before

The fair, which will be open to the public from October 2 to 10 after a pandemic-related hiatus, will display more electric vehicles than ever before in its 102-year history.

However, Enrique Lacalle, who presides over the trade show, stressed the importance of installing more "charging stations if we want electric vehicle use to become the most common" mode of private transport. 

"This is the biggest automobile fair in Europe," Lacalle said proudly. 23 carmakers will be present versus the seven that made an appearance at the Munich trade show a few weeks ago.