Catalonia independence drive second largest concern after unemployment: Poll

Reuters , Tuesday 7 Nov 2017

Demonstrators holding banners that read in Catalan: "Freedom for the Political Prisoners", gather during a protest against the decision of a judge to jail ex-members of the Catalan government at the University square in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017 (Photo: AP)

The independence drive in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia has become the second largest worry for Spaniards, after unemployment, surging from the ninth biggest concern in September, an official poll showed on Tuesday.

The political crisis between Catalonia and the central government reached a head Oct. 1 after regional leader Carles Puigdemont called a vote on independence, considered illegal by Madrid, then declared secession before being fired and replaced.

Some 29 percent of those surveyed said that Catalonia's push for secession was Spain's largest problem in a poll taken Oct. 2 to Oct 11, up from just 7.8 percent in a previous poll taken at the beginning of September.

Unemployment, the second highest in Europe, was still 66.2 percent of Spaniard's key concern.

If a national election was held today, the ruling People's Party (PP) would hold on to its minority government, with 28 percent of the vote, according to the survey, down from 28.8 percent when it was last taken in July.

Market-friendly Ciudadanos, originally based in Catalonia, saw support rise to 17.5 percent in October from 14.5 percent in July, while the Socialists would remain the second largest party in parliament with 24.2 percent compared to 24.9 percent previously.

Some 2,487 people were surveyed as part of the poll.

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