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Unionists call National Day celebrations a ‘private party’ of the independence camp

Catalonia’s ruling parties are accused of promoting "hatred of Spain"

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11 September 2021 05:00 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

With every National Day in the past ten years marked by rallies demanding Catalonia’s separation from Spain, unionist parties have become increasingly weary of joining any celebrations, or even observing the holiday at all, and accuse their political rivals of appropriating the day to make it "a private party." 

Out of four unionist parties in the Catalan parliament, only the Socialists, the largest and less belligerent, attended the floral tribute to national hero Rafael Casanova on Saturday.

Salvador Illa, the party leader, called for the National Day to be "everybody’s Diada," (the name of the holiday in Catalan) and for the senyera, the four-striped national flag, to become once again "the symbol of Catalonia," in opposition to the estelada, the independence flag that’s ubiquitous on September 11 rallies.

The tone of the three unionist parties on the right was more confrontational.

Far right calls the Diada ‘exclusionary’

"They’ve made the National Day an exclusionary, xenophobic and anti-Spanish party, with the sole goal of promoting their separatist cause," said Ignacio Garriga, the leader of far-right and anti-inmigration VOX.

Bursting into the parliament in the past election with 11 seats, Vox has emerged as the most blatant detractor of the independence movement and champions of Spain’s unity.

  • "Today is the National Day of the most exclusionary and radical nationalism, of those who appropriate our symbols and our Catalonia"

    Carlos Carrizosa · Ciutadans leader

Garriga said that Catalonia has become "poorer, less prosperous, and less safe" since the independence movement became the central issue in Catalan politics in 2012. "Those responsible for the ruin and misery take to the streets today asking those they’ve impoverished to continue believing in their separatist deliriums," said Garriga.

However, the leader of the party believes that every year "there are fewer people" supporting the independence cause, as "more and more Catalans" realize that the independence movement is led by "a selfish elite seeking to maintain their privileges."

Setting Sant Jordi as the National Holiday

Ciutadans, formerly the largest party in the Catalan parliament before losing 30 of its 36 seats in the past election, has described the National Day as the "private party of Catalan nationalism."

"Today is the National Day of the most exclusionary and radical nationalism, of those who appropriate our symbols and our Catalonia," said the leader of the party, Carlos Carrizosa, who also refrained from attending the floral tribute to Casanova. 

Carrizosa doubled down on his party’s proposal to change Catalonia’s National Day from September 11, commemorating the fall of Barcelona to the Bourbonic troops in 1714, to April 23, Saint George’s day or Sant Jordi, the festival of books, love, and roses.

"That is the day of the rose, the day of the book, culture, and tradition—something that unites us all. And all Catalans celebrate this day regardless of their beliefs," he said.

PP blames ‘economic decadence’ on indy camp

The People’s Party, the smallest in the Catalan parliament, accused pro-independence parties of being responsible for the "economic decadence" of Catalonia.

The PP leader in Catalonia, Alejandro Fernández, referred to last week’s suspension of the planned expansion of the Barcelona airport, with Spanish authorities blaming the Catalan government, which criticized the project on environmentalist grounds.

Fernández also mocked the independence camp for its internal divisions: "It's reached the point where the independence camp are even insulting each other in their own demonstrations. It's a rupture of the coexistence we have managed to achieve since the transition to democracy."

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