Following the visit to Catalonia by the Spanish Royal Family, an anti-monarchy protest has erupted in Barcelona. More than 2000 people demonstrated Monday against King Felipe’s visit to Barcelona, asking for the end of the monarchy.
The protesters held their rally outside the Juan Carlos I Hotel in Barcelona on Sunday and Monday, where King Felipe and his family were scheduled to stay. Despite the strong police presence that guarded the surroundings of the hotel and the Congress Centre, the protest turned violent. Many of the rioters have blown their whistles and sang songs against the monarchy before fighting with the police. Some spit and shoved those who were attending last night’s Princess Girona Foundation Awards as they attempted to enter the building.
The protest has forced traffic to be stopped on several major roads. Many of the separatists carried banners with the symbol of a crown upside down, and when the protesters demonstrated at the hotel and toward the police, they also burned pictures of the King.
Some Catalan politicians stand behind a call for the King to stand for election. The Catalan independence party politician, Gabriel Rufián said that the non-political constitutional monarch Felipe VI should stand for election. He said: “If you really are as prepared as some say and want to participate in the elections, present yourself as a candidate because we Catalans have no king”.
Regional leaders of parties that want to keep Spain united held a smaller peaceful counter-demonstration in support of the monarchy. The King, Queen Letizia, and their two daughters, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía were in Barcelona taking part in an awards ceremony for young entrepreneurs, scientists and artists. The heir to the throne, Princess Leonor, gave a speech at the ceremony, stressing her attachment to Catalonia.
This was the King’s first visit to Catalonia since the conviction of separatist leaders a couple of weeks ago. Since then, demonstrations and protests have taken place continuously to demand their release. The Catalan issue in the current political campaign is highly debated, but a majority of the Spanish political parties said they support the monarchy and that Catalonia remains a part of Spain.