Frustration of Catalonia’s ‘silent majority’

Hundreds of thousands marched in Barcelona this weekend to protest against the Spanish government's plans to oust the Catalan leader and his government.

Those you didn't see are the people who often call themselves the "silent majority" who oppose independence, who stayed away from the referendum but who are now fully behind Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's drive to impose control on Catalonia.

Laura Mayoral, Carlos Ballart and Nuria Nadal are amongst them.

We met in a Barcelona hotel and they shared their feelings of frustration that their voices have not been heard because there was no real anti-independence campaign around the referendum.

But now they say they want to stand up for what is legal, constitutional.

Carlos says simply: "Rajoy is in the law. And our regional President is not, so something has to be done."

They back the move to invoke Article 155 of the constitution and take control of their region.

Image:Sky's Michelle Clifford talks to Laura Mayoral, Carlos Ballart and Nuria Nadal

:: Catalan leader: Removing powers 'worst attack since Franco'

Laura tells me: "There have been many weeks of this conflict and the central government has been exploring and trying to avoid the application of Article 155 for weeks … but nothing seems to be working.

"So unfortunately I think it is super important to go back to the rule of law and unfortunately this is the last resort."

That is how the Madrid government would put it too. That all other options were exhausted.

The Catalan government says it asked for dialogue and that was rejected and many pro-independence supporters regard Madrid as bullies, even calling them dictators.

The divisions here run deep and all three talk of the major social rifts the referendum stoked.

Divisions run deep in Catalonia
Image:Divisions run deep in Catalonia

Colleagues, friends, even families are at odds over separation from Spain. Carlos even believes he lost a job a because of his anti-independence views.

:: What invoking Article 155 means for Catalonia

And Nuria believes those tensions may get worse in the coming days if the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont declares independence and there are attempts to arrest him.

Many of his supporters have told Sky News they will surround parliament or any other building the President is in if the police try to move in.

Nuria says: "When you go to take out a President from his chair, if he doesn't want to remove, then you have to force it a little bit.

"I think the police will be professional and so on but still, it is very violent because they (the separatists) will push to the end because they are almost there.

"And yes, I am super concerned about violence, that's for sure. But equally, social fracture. How do you recover from all the hate that has been promoted? How?"

The rally was called to support Spanish unity
Video:Spain announces measures to reduce Catalonia autonomy

Still, all believe that the steps Madrid is taking will help restore normality to Catalonia after weeks when scenes of police violence, mass protests and an ever defiant separatist government have dominated the narrative in Catalonia.

Nuria says: "I just want to talk about something else. Normal things. I want the economy to return to how it was."

And all three believe that Article 155 will help achieve that.

Carlos says: "We are living in a very difficult situation, you never know what is going to happen the following day.

"We don't have security and that is why all the businesses are going out, because they just don't know.

"Probably we are going to solve it for a bit of time with Article 155, to control. It is not something to take the self-government of Catalonia, it is to be assured that the self-government is in the law."

Laura adds: "So I hope that this is not going to last for a long time.

"And I hope that we have all learned a lesson here and that breaking the law is not the way … and I hope that in three or four months we can have elections and people can be properly counted and from there we continue."

But she, like everyone else in this city, knows the coming days will be critical, with a Madrid government seeking to take over and a Catalan government equally determined to stay put.

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