What Catalans Think

Spain Catalonia

Fernando González Urbaneja | Surveys are illustrative, although they have to be gone through with a fine-tooth comb, with an interpretation manual to prevent them from saying what the pollster intends or what the receiver wants or imagines. That is why they sometimes serve to ratify each person’s beliefs and convictions and sometimes to improve awareness. As to what the Catalans are thinking, we run up against all possible hypotheses.

For example, for some time now it has been an indisputable truth that 80% of Catalans are in favour of the right to decide, for a referendum. There are obvious “defects” in both the question and the answer. But they have served as a fundamental reference for the “indepes”.

La Vanguardia has recently published the results of a survey carried out by Gad3 on what Catalans now think and their voting intentions or preferences. There is not much new in terms of the latter. Apart from the fact that ERC has established itself as the leading party in both regional and national elections, with an appreciable distance from its nationalist competitors. The other questions are more interesting.

The ideological positioning of Catalans is further to the left than that of other Spaniards: 27% of those surveyed were in the centre and right, compared with 54% on the left or centre-left. The overall map for Spaniards is more balanced. The assessment of the political and economic situation is poor, with only 9% considering it as good. In this they coincide with other Spaniards.

Opinions are split between the Catalan government (ERC faction) and the Spanish government. More thought-provoking is the opinion on what should be negotiated: 48% are in favour of the “fish in the basket” thesis, i.e. negotiating to improve financing and competences. Eight per cent are in favour of unilateralism and 15 per cent in favour of negotiating self-determination and amnesty. Sixteen per cent opt for leaving things as they are.

These are consistent questions, with the clearest one being how they would vote on hypothetical independence: 39% in favour and 53% against. With these figures, it is understandable that ERC is opting for a slow burn, continuing to stir up public opinion in order to achieve its goal, to reach its Ithaca. Another important questions refers to the expansion of El Prat, which garnered 66% of favourable opinions. There was also a question on the language spoken at home: Spanish 41%; Catalan 29%; indistinct 30%.

Everyone will draw their own conclusions. However, the claim that Catalan society is unanimous or clearly in favour of the “indepes” proposals does not have sufficient support. Rubbing along rather than coexisting.

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.