Lleida

After touring the Catalan parliament, I was invited to visit the city of Lleida by a municipal representative. She explained to me that as one of Catalonia’s main cities, leaders of the movement there would be interested in speaking to me about secession. I agree to the visit for the next week.

Once again aboard one of Spain’s renfe trains, I arrived in the western South Catalan city of Lleida. Upon arrival, I followed my host’s directions into the city where she met me in front of a cathedral. We quickly set off on our visit. I immediately noticed that, contrary to Girona and even Barcelona, Lleida was much quieter on the secessionist side. Public opinion polls correlated with my observations.

I had the opportunity to visit a foreign language institute and speak with students enrolled in English classes, meet a local journalist, partake in a television interview, converse with the head of the opposition party in the town, as well as meet local student activists. In addition, we toured the ancient citadel of the city where the forces of the principality of Catalonia lost at the hands of Bourbon backed Castile in the early 18th century, a reoccurring narrative of my interviews. My biggest discovery in Lleida related to the place for the middle opinion in the Catalan debate, or that of federalism. The Socialist party of Catalonia in particular had long advocated for a middle road between greater union and secession. In the latest elections to the Catalan parliament, the socialist party suffered once of its worst electoral defeats in history. Members of theĀ  both the Republican Left and Convergence and Union parties expressed that this was a result of the elimination of the middle option by the constitutional court’s ruling on the 2006 statute of autonomy. This argument, of course held in the perspective of secessionists, would explain the electoral losses of socialists.