- Title: SPAIN-CATALONIA/UPDATE Catalonia celebrates national day with huge parade
- Date: 11th September 2015
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRO-INDEPENDENCE DEMONSTRATOR, MAN DRESSED IN "SUPERCAT COSTUME", NO NAME GIVEN, SAYING: "To be here is the best that happened in my life. It's emotion on my skin, and it's not only me, all Catalans here want to make a new country, a new state, and we're together to do this, ok?" VARIOUS AERIALS OF DEMONSTRATION PAN OF BARCELONA SKYLINE TO DEMONSTRATION
- Embargoed: 26th September 2015 13:00
- Location: Spain
- Country: Spain
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA1PT3URYPNIU7DILCWZEG4GXEO
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Friday (11 September) to celebrate the national day of Catalonia ahead of tight regional elections that could see the separatist region claim its independence from Spain.
This year the day coincides with the launch of official campaigning for regional elections that many see as a "make-or-break" moment for the independence movement.
Around 500,000 people had registered to the event.
Dressed in white - the colour chosen by pro-independence organisers Ara Es L'Hora, "Now's the time", as the new roadmap for Catalonia - and holding the region's separatist "estelada" flags, demonstrators cheered, sang and hoped for a future away from Madrid.
Traditional Catalan Castellers built human towers amidst the crowd of bystanders on the Meridiana, the long avenue where the demonstration took place.
Barcelona civil servant Miquel Palomar said the demonstration was "the best thing that can happen to a Catalan".
"This is enormous. This is very important. For a Catalan this is very very important," he said.
"To be here with all our compatriots, with a national reclamation movement, a movement that makes our claim to become a country more solid. We want to vote, we want to become a country, stay together, and walk hand in hand towards that," he added.
Echoing his enthusiasm, 44-year-old Nuria Llucia, a nurse assistant from Barcelona, said:
"This is very important. It's transcendental, we're going down in history and we're going to make it, I'm sure of it. We're going down in history, we just need to keep on going and then we will become an independent country," she said.
The northeastern region, which accounts for nearly one fifth of Spain's output and population, has witnessed an escalating growth of its long-standing independence movement, fuelled by Spains' economic crisis and Madrid's refusal to meet regional demands.
The September 27 election - or 27-S as it's generally referred to - is being portrayed by local authorities as a proxy vote on secession.
Catalan separatists say they would be in a better position to boost the economy if they had their own state and stop tax transfers to Spain's poorest regions, something that Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's People's Party dismisses.
While any outcome, positive or negative, will shape Spain's political agenda ahead of a December general election, a separatist victory would be highly unlikely to translate into outright secession.
Pro-independence parties have said they will start a "road map" to an independent Catalan state within 18 months if they win control of the regional assembly.
But a closely-watched survey on Thursday suggested that separatist parties would achieve the slimmest of majorities in the regional parliament, falling well short of 50 percent of the vote.
Despite the polls, the drive for independence is felt everywhere in Barcelona.
A man dressed in a "Supercat" costume, who declined to give his name, said Friday's demonstration was "the best that happened in my life."
"It's emotion on my skin, and it's not only me, all Catalans here want to make a new country, a new state, and we're together to do this, ok?" he said.
Catalonia's national day commemorates Barcelona's fall under Spanish rule during the War of Spanish Succession, that ended on 11 September 1714.
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