Catalan pro-independence demonstrations scheduled

Demonstrations commemorating the third anniversary of Catalonia’s independence referendum will begin today. Catalonia’s 2017 pro-independence referendum saw Spain’s constitutional court

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Demonstrations commemorating the third anniversary of Catalonia’s independence referendum will begin today.

Catalonia’s 2017 pro-independence referendum saw Spain’s constitutional court declare the move illegal. Nine separatist leaders were handed nine- to twelve-year sentences on charges of sedition, while Catalonia’s regional president Carles Puigdemont went into exile abroad. After Pere Aragones’ May 2021 election as Catalonia’s regional president, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez granted pardons to the nine separatist leaders in June 2021, as a gesture of good will. Though far apart on independence, their September 15 meeting focused on the region’s budgetary needs, laying the groundwork for future dialogue.

Expect today’s protest to trigger calls for Puigdemont’s pardon in light of Spain’s ongoing extradition request from Italy, while Italy’s judiciary deliberates the extradition’s legality under EU law. Though the demonstrations will likely continue centering their efforts on independence, expect Sanchez to reject such a notion for the foreseeable future. The 108,000 demonstrators that gathered for ‘La Diada’ on September 11, compared to the 600,000 that gathered in 2017, likely signals reduced public momentum behind the independence movement. In the medium-term, expect further dialogue between the national government and Catalonia on policy considerations around greater economic benefits for the region.

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