Catalans are the least popular among Spaniards: survey

What do people in Spain’s different regions really think of one another and is regional identity really all that important? The results of a recently-published survey reveal all.

Catalan flags
Catalans are the least like among Spaniards. Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

Anyone who knows Spain relatively well will be aware that it’s a diverse country and that not all Spaniards hum the national anthem with pride

A survey published on April 12th 2022 by Barcelona’s prestigious ESADE private educational institution has analysed the nature and gauged the severity of polarisation in Spain.

One of their standout conclusions is that of all regional groups, Catalans are the least favoured among Spaniards, although there actually isn’t a huge difference between the regions.

The results showed that the Catalans were slightly less popular among Spanish citizens in all regions, apart from in the Basque Country.

However, Spaniards generally approve of one another, whatever region they’re from, ESADE found. 

The results reflect that the high level of tension in politics is not actually a true reflection of what people from different regions think of one another. In fact, the survey’s findings indicate that there does not seem to be a problem of coexistence at all. 

READ ALSO – The good, the bad and the ugly: What are the regional stereotypes across Spain?

ESADE’s survey reveals that the region Spaniards come from doesn’t actually appear to be defining for their personal identity. More than 70 percent of the Spanish population indicated that regional identity was “not at all” or barely “somewhat” important. 

Most frequently, Spaniards indicated that they felt a dual territorial identity – both Spanish and regional.  

The greatest differences were seen in Catalonia where exclusive identification with the region was the highest, but still under half at 21 percent.  

Valencia was the region where the highest number of citizens identified as being exclusively Spanish at 31 percent.

The study found that when one of your parents is from a region different from the one where you live, the probability of identifying with your region decreases significantly.

Unlike the national sample, in Catalonia the assessment of coexistence between the regions is conditioned by political attitudes – those with more regional identities value coexistence more.

The survey also found that unsurprisingly, citizens of Catalonia and the Basque Country are more against centralisation and more in favour of decentralisation than the rest. They are also more averse to moving to other regions in Spain.

All things considered, it seems that despite some regional differences and light animosity, most Spaniards from all corners of the country recognise their regional neighbours as their countrymen and countrywomen.

They also have plenty in common, such as their generally low levels of institutional trust, with no administration (local, regional, central or European) scoring high in any territory. 

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Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Talk of abortion policy reform and proposed menstrual leave has dominated Spanish discourse this week, but it’s also dividing Spain’s coalition government.

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Spain’s PSOE-fronted coalition government recently outlined proposals that have dominated public discourse in the country.

But the legislation, which would allow women over the age of 16 to get abortions without the permission of their parents and introduce ‘menstruation leave’ for those suffering serious period pains, has not only divided Spanish society but the government itself.

The proposals would make Spain a leader in the Western world, and the first European Union member state to introduce menstrual leave, and changes to abortion law would overturn a 2015 law passed by the conservative People’s Party that forced women aged 16 and 17 to obtain parental consent.

The wide-ranging bill would also end VAT on menstrual products, increase the free distribution of them in schools, and allow between three and five days of leave each month for women who experience particularly painful periods.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s abortion laws for foreign residents and visitors?

Menstrual leave

Ángela Rodríguez, the Secretary of State for Equality, told Spanish newspaper El Periódico in March that “it’s important to be clear about what a painful period is – we’re not talking about slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and bad headaches.”

“When there’s a problem that can’t be solved medically, we think it’s very sensible to have temporary sick leave,” she added.

Cabinet politics

The proposals are slated for approval in cabinet next week, and judging by reports in the Spanish media this week, it is far from reaching a consensus. It is believed the intra-cabinet tensions stem not from the changes to abortion and contraception accessibility, but rather the proposed menstrual leave.

The junior coalition partner in government, Podemos, largely supports the bill, but it is believed some in the PSOE ranks are more sceptical about the symbolism and employment effects of the proposed period pain policy.

Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, said this week: “Let me repeat it very clearly: this government believes and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that may result in a stigmatisation of women.”

Yet Second Vice President and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, who is viewed as further to the left than President Pedro Sánchez and other PSOE cabinet ministers, is reportedly “absolutely in favour” of the measure to reform Spain’s “deeply masculinised” labour market.

Sources in the Spanish media have this week also reported that some PSOE cabinet ministers feel the proposed paid leave not only plays up to stereotypes of women, or stigmatises them, like Calviño says, but also places them at a disadvantage in the world of work.

Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, stated that while the government should seek to improve women’s employment protections, it should also seek to boost their participation in the labour market under “better conditions.”

In that vein, some feel menstrual leave could be used a form of of employment discrimination similarly to how pregnancy has been historically, and the policy would, in that sense, actually be more regressive than progressive in enshrining women’s workplace rights. 

READ MORE: Spain eyes free contraception for under-25’s

Trade unions

Trade unions are also sceptical of the menstrual leave legislation. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of UGT, one of Spain’s largest trade unions, has echoed those in the cabinet who feel the proposals could “stigmatise women.” She added that “it does women a disservice.”

Public opinion

A survey run by INTIMINA found that 67 percent of Spanish women are in favour of regulating menstrual leave, but also that 75 percent fear it is “a double-edged sword” that could generate labor discrimination.

The survey also found that 88 percent of women who suffer from disabling and frequent period pain have gone to work despite it. Seventy-one percent admitted that they have normalised working with pain.

Cabinet showdown

The proposed menstrual leave policy will be debated in cabinet next week when the Council of Ministers debates and approves the broader abortion and contraception reforms. According to sources in the Spanish media, and many cabinet ministers themselves, it seems a consensus on menstruation leave is a long way off.