The Catalan independence movement or the Catalan separatist movement (Catalan: independentisme català)[a] is a political movement, derived from Catalan nationalism, which supports the independence of Catalonia or the Catalan countries from Spain and France. As a coastal territory of the Crown of Aragon, Catalonia has shared the monarch with Spain since the latter part of the 15th century, when Spain was born from the union of the Crown of Aragon and the Crown of Castile. However, the Crown of Aragon lost distinctive rules, institutions and laws at the end of the War of Spanish Succession in 1714, when Philip V of Spain issued the Nueva Planta decrees, a centralized Spanish rule. Support for Catalan independence is based on the thesis from the 19th century that Catalonia is a nation, derived from contemporary political and cultural ideology based on the history of Catalonia, the Catalan language and Catalan traditions.
The beginnings of separatism can be traced back to mid 19th to early 20th centuries, when some individuals, organisations and political parties started demanding full independence of Catalonia from Spain. In 1931 a coalition of Catalan nationalist parties was the most voted force in Catalonia in the Spanish municipal elections that triggered the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic. In 1932 Catalonia was granted a statute of autonomy and home rule institutions, which lasted until the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Franco dictatorship, which based its public ideology on Spanish Nationalism and Catholicism, abolished home rule and discouraged regional cultures. Following Franco's death in 1975 and the Spanish transition to democracy, Catalan autonomy was restored in 1977. Catalan Nationalists have governed the region most of the time since then, and those calling for full independence have had their parliamentary group since 1980. More recently, there has been a substantial increase in the number of people who openly consider themselves independentists, and on September 11, 2012 and September 11, 2013 there were massive demonstrations with more than 1 million participants calling for independence for Catalonia through a peaceful, democratic process and non-binding and unofficial referendums in municipalities. The ruling coalition, Convergència i Unió on giving up its longstanding strategy for more autonomy shortly after the 2012 demonstration (organized by a civil society movement), openly came out in favour of independence, but lost some MPs in the parliament of Catalonia to the more radical historical independence party, for various reasons, after the 2012 election, a clear majority of the parliament in Catalonia is committed to a referendum on independence, and 55% of it is composed of openly separatist parties. The Estelada flag, in its blue and red versions, has become its main symbol.
- 1 History
- 2 2010s events
- 3 Support in Catalan politics
- 4 Public opinion
- 5 Support
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Some Catalan authors, such as Xavier Bru de Sala "Canviar Espanya", argue that the first serious struggle for Catalan independence may date back as far as 1640, with the unsuccessful first Catalan Republic after the Reaper's War. In the subsequent War of the Spanish Succession Catalans hoped to salvage their institutions of home rule, in the face of a centralizing Bourbon pretender, rather than outright independence. In the early 20th century Enric Prat de la Riba forged an alliance of county councils, the Mancomunitat de Catalunya, to modernize Catalonia by building State structures. In the modern sense, the first political parties to define themselves as pro-independence were created between the 1920s and the 1930s in Catalonia. The main separatist party created at this time was Estat Català and its branch called Bandera Negra. Estat Català evolved into the new party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, although some of its members refused it and remained faithful to the original Estat Català, now a minor party. In the First World War Catalan Volunteers bore the pro-independence flag when they fought on the Allies' side. The same ensign headed a text addressed to president Wilson late in 1918, calling on him to review the Treaty of Utrecht, which had allowed Spain to abolish Catalonia's home rule inside a centralized unitary State. In 1928 exiled Catalans in Cuba (a coup d'état had occurred in Spain, in 1923) drafted a Provisional Constitution of the Catalan Republic.
After the Spanish Civil War, members of Estat Català and Nosaltres Sols founded the Front Nacional de Catalunya which became the main pro-independence party. However, one might argue that the modern Catalan pro-independence movement was actually born in the 1960s with the Partit Socialista d'Alliberament Nacional (PSAN). Since then, the pro-independence movement has assumed a mostly left-wing political trend and has often shifted its focus from "independence for Catalonia" to "independence for the 'Catalan Countries'".
By the 1970s, the PSAN split into several factions, and many other groups appeared, including the armed organization Terra Lliure. In the 1980s, the Moviment de Defensa de la Terra (MDT) became the major pro-independence political group but this too became divided by the end of the decade. During the 1990s, existing political parties such as Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and the linguistic-national initiative Crida a la Solidaritat progressively evolved towards a more pro-independence stance.
2010 Catalan autonomy protest
The 2010 Catalan autonomy protest was a demonstration held in central Barcelona on 10 July 2010 against the limits set to the autonomy of Catalonia within Spain, and particularly against a then recent decision of the Spanish Constitutional Court to annul or reinterpret several articles of the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, approved in referendum by 73.9% of the voters. The judgement of 28 June 2010 declared as without interpretative legal effect references to "Catalonia as a nation" and "the national reality of Catalonia". It also declared fourteen articles entirely or partly unconstitutional. Twenty-two further articles and four additional provisions were interpreted restrictively, always limiting Catalan self-government. The articles mentioned refer to:
- Catalonia as a nation, its historic rights and symbols
- Protection of the Catalan language
- Decentralisation of justice in Catalonia
- Local organisation in Catalonia
- The Catalan model of banks
- The organisation of political consultations or referendums
- Competencies in immigration
- The financing of Catalonia
The number of people taking part in the demonstration was estimated at between 1.1 million (according to the local police) and 1.5 million (according to the organisers) Madrid-based newspaper El País estimated the number of demonstrators at 425,000.
The mobilisation was described as "unprecedented" by the mayor of Barcelona. Barcelona daily El Periódico de Catalunya described it as "without a doubt one of the biggest protest marches that have ever occurred in Catalonia, and possibly the biggest". The demonstration was led by a banner with the Catalan slogan Som una nació. Nosaltres decidim. (in English, "We are a nation. We decide.").
Changes in government
Nationalist leaders believe that the demonstration on 10 July was a turning point in relations between Catalonia and Spain. An election to the Catalan Government was held on 28 November 2010 with Artur Mas (Convergència i Unió or CiU) emerging as president.
A general election was held in Spain the following year in which the People's Party won an absolute majority with 187 of the 350 seats in the chamber. Party leader Mariano Rajoy was sworn in as president of the Spanish Tenth Legislature shortly afterwards.
Catalonia saw several local referenda for independence take place in hundreds of villages between 13 September 2009 and April 2011, with an overwhelming number of "yes" votes being cast. However, turnout was low at 27.41%.
Several citizens' initiatives arose in 2011 and 2012 in response to perceived slights by Spain, such as the No vull pagar ("I don't want to pay") campaign, which protested against toll fees that were seen as abusive compared with those in other parts of Spain. The protest began in early April 2012 in Catalonia and had extended in a minor degree to Valencia and the Balearic Islands by the following month.
At an institutional level, several municipalities of Catalonia came together to create the Association of Municipalities for Independence, an organisation officially established on 14 December 2011 in Vic which brings local organisations together to further the national rights of Catalonia and promote its right to self-determination. Also, during 2012, 197 Catalan towns declared themselves Free Catalan Territory stating that "the Spanish legislation and regulations have effect only in Spain, so this town will wait for new legislation and regulation from the Catalan Government and the Parliament of Catalonia".
2012 Catalan independence demonstration and snap elections
The 2012 Catalan independence demonstration, organised by the Catalan National Assembly, argued that Catalonia should become an independent state within the European Union, under the slogan "Catalonia, new state in Europe".
The number of participants was estimated at about 1.5 million according to Barcelona's Municipal Police and Catalonia's Department of the Interior, about 2 million according to the organizers, and about 600,000 according to the delegation of the Spanish government in Catalonia. La Directa magazine estimated at minimum 1,056,000 by counting occupied area and density. An article by statistician Llorenç Badiella published in newspaper La Vanguardia estimated at about 600,000.
The city centre was crowded for hours and it was feared that the massive influx of people might bring the mobile phone network to a standstill. Many newspapers and other news agencies described it as an "historic" demonstration and considered it to be the biggest protest march ever held in Catalonia since the restoration of democracy in Spain, surpassing other major demonstrations, including the 2010 Catalan autonomy protest.
The event has marked the Catalan political agenda and the debate about the right to hold a referendum on the independence of Catalonia has been re-opened, as well as the debate about the feasibility of an independent Catalan state and its integration into the European Union. As a consequence, the Catalan independence referendum is planned to take place during the tenth legislature of the Parliament of Catalonia. According to a resolution adopted by the Parliament of Catalonia on 27 September 2012:
|“||The Parliament of Catalonia confirms the need for the people of Catalonia to be able to freely and democratically determine their collective future and urges the government to hold a referendum during the following legislature.||”|
|Institution/media||Date||Yes (%)||No (%)|
|Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas||1996||33.6||53.5|
|Institut de Ciències Polítiques i Socials||2011||41.4||22.9|
|El Periódico de Catalunya||Jan 2012||53.6||32.0|
|Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió||March 2012||44.6||24.7|
|Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió||June 2012||51.1||21.1|
|Diari Ara||Jul 2012||50.4||23.8|
|Telecinco (GESOP)||Sep 2012||50.9||18.6|
|Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió||Feb 2013||54.7||20.7|
|El Periódico de Catalunya||May 2013||57.8||36|
|Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió||June 2013||55.6||23.4|
|Cadena SER||Sep 2013||52.3||24.1|
|Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió||Sep 2013||54.7||22.1|
|Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió||Dec 2014||44.5||45.3|
|Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió||Mar 2015||44.0||48.0|
|Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió||Jun 2015||42.9||50.0|
The resolution was adopted after the general policy debate. It received 84 favourable votes, 21 against and 25 abstentions. The President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Artur Mas, declared in a speech to Parliament that it was time for the people of Catalonia to exercise the right of self-determination. On 25 September 2012, the president of the Generalitat of Catalonia Artur Mas announced snap elections for the Parliament of Catalonia to be held on 25 November and argued, referring to the demonstration, that "the street vocal must be moved to the polls". Parties defending Catalonia’s independence from Spain obtained more than half the Catalan Parliament seats and significantly increased their votes, although Mas' party lost seats. The "Agreement for Freedom" (2012–2016 governability agreement) was negotiated between Artur Mas (CiU) and Oriol Junqueras (ERC), the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Catalonia.
On 23 January 2013, the Parliament of Catalonia adopted by 85 favourable votes, 41 against, and 2 abstentions the Declaration of Sovereignty and of the Right to Decide of the Catalan People. It states that "The people of Catalonia have – by reason of democratic legitimacy – the character of a sovereign political and legal entity." It is based on the following principles: sovereignty, democratic legitimacy, transparency, dialogue, social cohesion, Europeanism, legality, role of the Catalan Parliament and participation.
|“||In accordance with the democratically expressed will of the majority of the Catalan public, the Parliament of Catalonia initiates a process to bring to promote the right of the citizens of Catalonia to collectively decide their political future.||”|
The political parties Convergence and Union (CiU) (50 yes), Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) (21 yes) and Initiative for Catalonia Greens-United and Alternative Left (ICV-EUiA) (13 yes) fully supported the statement of sovereignty. On the other hand, the People's Party of Catalonia (PPC) (19 no) and Citizens – Party of the Citizenry (C's) (9 no) fully opposed the proposal. 15 members of the Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE) voted against; 5 did not vote despite being present in the Chamber, thus disobeying the orders of the party whips to vote against the proposal. Finally, the Popular Unity Candidature (CUP) gave a "critical yes", with 1 vote in favour and 2 abstentions.
On 8 May 2013 this declaration was provisionally suspended by the Constitutional Court of Spain. On 25 March 2014, the same court declared this declaration void and not constitutional. The Spanish Government totally opposes Catalonia’s independence, its self-determination, and the organisation of a vote.
Catalan Way human chain
The Catalan Way (Catalan: Via Catalana), also known as the Catalan Way towards Independence (Catalan: Via Catalana cap a la Independència), was a 480-kilometre (300 mi) human chain in support of Catalan independence from Spain. It was organized by the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC), and took place in Catalonia on 11 September 2013, which is the National Day of Catalonia. Catalonia's Department of the Interior estimated the number of participants at about 1.6 million. The protest was supported by 14 nongovernmental groups The human chain followed the ancient Via Augusta, from Le Perthus (France, Vallespir) up to Alcanar (Spain, Montsià). According to Carme Forcadell, president of the ANC, it was "a symbol of the unity of Catalan people to achieve national sovereignty".
Plans for the Catalan Way were presented for the first time on 19 June 2013, at the Museu d'Història de Catalunya; the inspiration for these was the 1989 Baltic Way. The presentation included Henn Karits and Ülo Laanoja, two members of the organization which staged the Baltic Way. Three weeks before the event, more than 350,000 people had registered to participate. In total, the organizers mobilized about 1,500 buses and 30,000 volunteers to help organize the event.
On 11 September 2014, the Catalan Way 2014 street protest attracted 900,000 people, according to an independent statistical analysis by the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The human chain at this event occupied the two main streets in Barcelona (Diagonal and Gran Via) drawing a 11 km. "V"-shaped Catalan flag. The V also stood for "vote", referring to the referendum that was upcoming at the time.
Catalan self-determination referendum
On 12 December 2013, the Government of Catalonia announced a referendum on independence had been set for 9 November 2014. It will contain a question with two sections: "Do you want Catalonia to become a State?" and "In case of an affirmative response, do you want this State to be independent?". The Spanish Government stated shortly thereafter its intention to block the referendum, stating "Such a poll will not be held." The government maintained as of September 2014 that the referendum was illegal. While a yes vote would not mean Catalonia would secede, according to Catalan politician Artur Mas i Gavarró it would give independence leaders a political mandate to negotiate with the government regarding independence. The poll was in fact held, and 80.8% of voters marked "yes" on both questions, although a majority of Catalans chose not to participate in the referendum.
Support in Catalan politics
The parties explicitly campaigning for independence currently represented in the Catalan Parliament are the Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra) and the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP). They won 13.4% of the vote after the Catalan elections of 2012. However, Convergence and Union (CiU) and Initiative for Catalonia Greens-United and Alternative Left (ICV-EUiA) both include pro-independence factions, and these four parties—comprising 57.9% of the vote—are all in favour of an independence referendum in 2014.
Many members and voters of CiU, the governing nationalist federation with the most seats at the Catalan parliament (30.7% of the vote), also give support to independence. Although independence is not formally proposed in their election manifesto, their objective is the maximum autonomy of Catalonia inside Spain, and have abstained numerous times in independence votes in the Parliament of Catalonia. The pro-independence tendency inside the party has presumably been growing since its leader proposed in 2007 the so-called Casa Gran del Catalanisme project which, among other causes, includes the defense of self-determination for Catalonia. Finally, the left wing ICV-EUiA party (9.9% of the vote in the 2012 election) claims to give full support to the right of self-determination and has several members explicitly supporting Catalan independence.
Though many parties reject the idea of independence, the only political parties that reject Catalan self-determination rights are the People's Party of Catalonia and Ciutadans which had 12.99%, 7.58% of the vote respectively in the 2012 Catalan parliamentary election. However, there is a significant fraction within the Socialists' Party supporting the sovereignty of Catalonia within a federalised Spain.
Other smaller pro-independence parties or coalitions, without present representation in any parliament, are Catalan Solidarity for Independence, Estat Català, Endavant, PSAN, MDT and Reagrupament. There are also youth organisations such as Young Republican Left of Catalonia, Arran, and the student unions SEPC and FNEC.
In Spain, some[who?] considered this trend to have been stimulated as a reaction especially against the policy of the Spanish government's governing People's Party, and its opposition to certain legislative reforms such as the reformed Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 2006.
The position of Catalans regarding the independence of either Catalonia or of the Catalan Countries must be studied taking into account an important fact, namely, that close to 6 million of Catalan citizens are of immigrant or non-Catalan Spanish origin. It has been calculated that the total population of Catalonia, with no migration, would have grown from 2 million people in 1900 to just 2.4 million in 1980, merely 39% of the actual population of 6.1 million at that date. This population has continued growing and was over 7.4 million in 2009.
One study found that support for independence is a function of grievances rooted in the desire for Catalonia to assume responsibility for taxation and spending policy. This suggest that Spain might be able to stave off Catalonia's separatist bid through some form of political and taxation policy reconfiguration.
Several institutions have performed polls which also include questions on the independence issue in Catalonia. The following are the most prominent ones are the Center for Opinion Studies (Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió; CEO), the Spanish government-run Social Research Centre (Centro de Investigaciones Sociales; CIS) and the Social and Political Sciencies Institute of Barcelona (Institut de Ciències Polítiques i Socials; ICPS) belonging to the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Diputation of Barcelona.
Centre for Opinion Studies
The CEO was depending on the Economy Department of the Generalitat of Catalonia until early 2011. Since then it has been placed under direct control of the Presidency of the Generalitat and is currently headed by Jordi Argelaguet i Argemí. Since the second quarter of 2011, CEO has conducted polls regarding public sentiments toward independence.
|Date||In favor (%)||Against (%)||Others (%)||Abstain (%)||Do not know (%)||Did not reply (%)|
|2011 2nd series||42.9||28.2||0.5||23.3||4.4||0.8|
|2011 3rd series||45.4||24.7||0.6||23.8||4.6||1.0|
|2012 1st series||44.6||24.7||1.0||24.2||4.6||0.9|
|2012 2nd series||51.1||21.1||1.0||21.1||4.7||1.1|
|2012 3rd series||57.0||20.5||0.6||14.3||6.2||1.5|
|2013 1st series||54.7||20.7||1.1||17.0||5.4||1.0|
|2013 2nd series||55.6||23.4||0.6||15.3||3.8||1.3|
|2014 1st series||47.1||27.9||-||-||11.1||11.2|
|2014 2nd series||44.5||45.3||-||-||7.5||2.8|
|2015 1st series||44.1||48.0||-||-||6.0||1.8|
|2015 2nd series||42.9||50.0||-||-||5.8||1.3|
CEO likewise conducted polls in the 1st and 2nd series of 2014 based on the 9N independence referendum format. The questions and choices involved were:
- Do you want Catalonia to become a State? (Yes/No)
- If the answer for question 1 is in the affirmative: Do you want this State to be independent? (Yes/No)
|Date||Yes + Yes (%)||Yes + No (%)||No (%)||Abstain (%)||Others (%)||Do not know/Did not reply (%)|
|2014 1st series||47.1||8.6||19.3||11.1||2.7||11.2|
|2014 2nd series||49.4||12.6||19.7||6.9||6.2||3.3|
In addition, CEO performs regular polls studying opinion of Catalan citizens regarding Catalona's political status within Spain. The following table contains the answers to the question "Which kind of political entity should Catalonia be with respect to Spain?":
|Date||Independent state (%)||Federal state (%)||Autonomous community (%)||Region (%)||Do not know (%)||Did not reply (%)|
|2010 1st series||19.4||29.5||38.2||6.9||4.4||1.6|
|2010 2nd series||21.5||31.2||35.2||7.3||4.0||0.7|
|2010 3rd series||24.3||31.0||33.3||5.4||4.9||1.0|
|2010 4th series||25.2||30.9||34.7||5.9||2.7||0.7|
|2011 1st series||24.5||31.9||33.2||5.6||3.5||1.3|
|2011 2nd series||25.5||33.0||31.8||5.6||3.4||0.8|
|2011 3rd series||28.2||30.4||30.3||5.7||3.9||1.5|
|2012 1st series||29.0||30.8||27.8||5.2||5.4||1.8|
|2012 2nd series||34.0||28.7||25.4||5.7||5.0||1.3|
|2012 3rd series||44.3||25.5||19.1||4.0||4.9||2.2|
|2013 1st series||46.4||22.4||20.7||4.4||4.9||1.2|
|2013 2nd series||47.0||21.2||22.8||4.6||3.5||0.9|
|2013 3rd series||48.5||21.3||18.6||5.4||4.0||2.2|
|2014 1st series||45.2||20.0||23.3||2.6||6.9||2.0|
|2014 2nd series||45.3||22.2||23.4||1.8||6.5||0.9|
|2015 1st series||39.1||26.1||24.0||3.4||5.3||2.0|
|2015 2nd series||37.6||24.0||29.3||4.0||3.9||1.1|
CIS performed a poll in Catalonia on 2001, including an explicit question on independence with the following results: 35.9% supporting it, 48.1% opposing it, 13.3% indifferent, 2.8% did not reply.
Social and Political Sciencies Institute of Barcelona
ICPS performs an opinion poll annually since 1989, which sometimes includes a section on independence. The results are in the following table:
|Year||Support (%)||Against (%)||Indifferent (%)||Did not reply (%)|
a telephonic instead of door-to-door interview
The question of independence has not been polled so far in other Catalan-speaking territories outside of Catalonia, but anecdotal evidence (basically the total absence of the independentist question in those territories) suggests that there is no sizable support for the idea of independence of the Catalan-speaking territories outside of Catalonia.
Catalan newspapers El Periódico and La Vanguardia have also been publishing their own surveys in recent times.
|Date||Yes (%)||No (%)||Others (%)|
a in case, a yes-vote would imply leaving the EU
|Date||Yes (%)||No (%)||Others (%)|
In recent years, support for Catalan independence has broadened from the traditional left or far-left Catalan nationalism. Relevant examples are the liberal economists Xavier Sala i Martín and Ramon Tremosa Balcells (elected deputy for CiU in the European parliament in the 2009 election), the lawyer and former FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta or the jurist and former member of the Consejo General del Poder Judicial Alfons López Tena.
The think tank Cercle d'Estudis Sobiranistes, led by the jurists Alfons López Tena and Hèctor López Bofill was founded in 2007. Since then it has summoned a number of lawmakers, professors, businessmen, professionals, economists, journalists and intellectuals for the cause of Catalonia's independence.
Other individuals include:
- Miquel Calçada, journalist and reporter
- Josep Carreras, tenor singer
- Teresa Forcades, Benedictine nun
- Josep (Pep) Guardiola i Sala, coach of FC Bayern Munich, former football player and former coach for FC Barcelona
- Joel Joan, actor
- Lluís Llach, composer and songwriter
- Artur Mas, president of Catalonia and president of Convergence and Union
- Justo Molinero, Radio host
- Quim Monzó, short story writer
- Manuel de Pedrolo, writer
- Felip Puig, politician (Democratic Convergence of Catalonia)
- Oriol Pujol i Ferrusola, politician (Democratic Convergence of Catalonia)
- Pilar Rahola, journalist and author, co-founder of the Independence Party
- Francesc Ribera i Toneu, lead singer of the group Brams
- Xavier Rubert de Ventós, philosopher
- Carles Solà i Ferrando, chemist
- Joan Solà, philologist
- Toni Strubell i Trueta, linguist
- Lluís Maria Xirinacs, priest, political activist and author
- Catalonian self-determination referendum
- Catalan nationalism
- Catalan Republic
- Catalan Countries
- Estelada flag
- Free Catalan Territory
- Convergence and Union
- Republican Left of Catalonia
- Catalan Solidarity for Independence
- Assemblea Nacional Catalana
- Catalan independence referendums, 2009–2011
- 2012 Catalan independence demonstration
- List of active autonomist and secessionist movements
- Catalan Way
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Catalonia Independence movement.|
- "Catalonia Votes", website on self-determination referendum, with articles, videos, etc.
- Catalonia's independence on YouTube (A video based on an article about Catalonia's independence by professor Xavier Sala-i-Martin from Columbia University.)
- Party Urging More Autonomy From Spain Seems to Win in Catalonia Article on New York Times, November 2, 2006
- The Importance of Catalonia to the Spanish Economy Infographic published by Venture Spain, October 9, 2014
- Courage in Catalonia Article on New York Times, June 22, 2006
- Voters in Catalonia Approve A Plan for Greater Autonomy Article in The New York Times, June 19, 2006
- Spain Moves On Law to Give Broad Powers To Catalonia Article in The New York Times, March 31, 2006
- Independentist sites at DMOZ. (Catalan)
- History of Catalan independentism. Dossier of the Catalan magazine El Temps. (Catalan)