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Support for Catalan independence at lowest level since 2014

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Support for Catalan independence at lowest level since 2014
Photo: AFP
08:24 CET+01:00
Support for Catalan independence plummeted in January to the lowest level in four years in the wealthy northwestern Spanish region that is home to some 7.5 million people, a survey said Friday.

A failed declaration of independence by the regional parliament on October 27th deeply divided Catalans and triggered Spain's worst political crisis since the country returned to democracy following the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

But a poll by the regional government backed Catalan Centre of Opinion Studies (CEO), which is dependent on the regional government, said 40.8 percent of respondents interviewed last month favoured independence.   

VOICES: Catalonia's independence movement is losing support

A total of 1,200 people were interviewed between January 10 and 30 and 50.3 percent said they were opposed to independence.    

A similar survey undertaken in October at the height of the crisis showed 48.7 percent favouring independence and 43.6 percent opposing it.    

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy moved to stop the crisis by imposing direct rule on the semi-autonomous region, sacking its government, dissolving parliament and calling snap elections.

But in a major setback for the central government, separatist parties once again won a majority of 70 seats in the 135-seat parliament in the December polls.

Former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont is in exile in Belgium and is one of several secessionist politicians wanted by Madrid on charges of sedition and rebellion.

"The result does not surprise me," said Spanish government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said, evoking what he termed the "grotesque" behaviour of the separatists.

Catalan police meanwhile Friday arrested 14 people who had chained themselves to the gate of a top court in Barcelona to protest against "repression" by the Spanish state since the independence declaration.

"These people were hindering access to the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia and disturbing" the judicial process, a spokesman for the regional police told AFP.

The arrests came during a demonstration staged by about 100 people. The protestors held up a giant banner reading: "Stop the coup d'etat".    

The organisers of the protest, the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), said: "Day after day, we see how the rotten and corroded judicial system of the Kingdom of Spain -- a direct legacy of Francoism -- is repressing Catalan citizens."

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