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Rallies and counter-protests on Spain's National Day in Catalonia

Catalan government does not observe holiday: "There is nothing to celebrate today"


12 October 2021 01:17 PM



Around a thousand people marched through the center of Barcelona on Tuesday to mark Spain's National Day.

The conservative People's Party and far-right Vox attended the rally organized by Barcelona per Catalunya Suma with the support of Societat Civil Catalana, which took place on Passeig de Gràcia avenue. 

Anti-fascist, anti-racist and pro-independence activists, on the other hand, gathered at Plaça Universitat to reject the October 12 holiday. The protesters attempted to make their way to Plaça Espanya, close to where far-right supporters were demonstrating at another rally on Montjuïc following a floral offering to the statue of Columbus, but were blocked off by police. 

Mossos d'Esquadra officers identified a person at the far-right Montjuïc demonstration for anti-semitic threats and have lodged a complaint which will be investigated by the Hate Crimes and Discrimination Unit. 

"Zero tolerance in the face of fascism," Catalan interior minister Joan Ignasi Elena Tweeted. Chants in favor of dictators Primo de Rivera and Francisco Franco as well as against independence, immigration, and public broadcaster TV3 could be heard at the rally.

No holiday for Catalan government

The pro-independence Esquerra Republicana and Junts per Catalunya coalition government of Catalonia, meanwhile, went about business as usual on Tuesday, despite the bank holiday.

"There's nothing to celebrate today," government spokesperson Patrícia Plaja said, describing the date as "the anniversary of a genocide."

Similarly, parliament speaker Laura Borràs did not cancel her trip to the Flemish Parliament: "Today is a workday and Catalans do not have anything celebrate."

Far-right strives to "reconquer" Catalonia

Using language reminiscent of the Catholic takeover of the Iberian Peninsula that concluded in 1492, far-right Vox marked the day by positioning itself as the party that can "reconquer" Catalonia to "give it back to Catalans."

MP and spokesperson Ignacio Garriga also criticized Ciudadanos for not attending the National Day rally in Barcelona. "They've been lowering their head for decades," Garriga said of the party that was founded 15 years ago. 

Ciudadanos does not attend rally

Ciudadanos, which has long justified its dealings with far-right Vox by arguing that it is against forming a cordon sanitaire, told the press that their decision not to attend Tuesday's march was driven by a desire to hold their own commemorative events, which included the reading of a manifesto.

Carlos Carrizosa, however, did call on president Pere Aragonès to "respect all Catalans with no exception" and to not "try to erase October 12 from the calendar" while also blasting Sánchez for his talks with the Catalan government on the issue of independence.

Socialists: Spain's "diversity" must be "protected"

"Spain is a plural and diverse country," Salvador Illa, the head of the Catalan branch of the Socialist party, Tweeted on Tuesday. "Its wealth lies in its plurality and diversity. Let's protect and preserve it."

Illa's party mate, Spanish president Pedro Sánchez, also referred to Spain's diversity on October 12, calling on Spaniards to celebrate "what makes Spain a welcoming, open, diverse country."

While in favor of remaining in Spain, the Socialists did not attend the unionist rally dominated by right-wing groups. 


  • Spain's 2021 National Day rally in Barcelona (by Guillem Roset)

  • Spain's 2021 National Day rally in Barcelona (by Guillem Roset)