Hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets of Barcelona on Sunday morning in support of Spain remaining united. They marched under the words “Let’s recover our common sense!” while waving European, Spanish, and Catalonian flags. Some of the crowd were heard chanting pro-union slogans.

Hundreds of thousands

Pro-union organisers Societat Civil Catalana said that 930,000 demonstrators turned out, but Barcelona police say 350,000 people participated. The numbers that marched are similar to the pro-independence rallies of recent years.

Former president of the European Parliament Josep Borrel and Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas showed their support for the pro-union march and addressed the crowd.

Mario Vargas said that supporters have come from all over Spain to show that Catalans are not alone in their desire Barcelona to be the capital of Spanish culture once again. Josep Borrel added that Catalonia was not like Kosovo where rights were systematically violated.

Separatist movement and the Spanish government

Tensions have been high in the region since the Catalan government went ahead with a referendum on secession last Sunday that the Spanish government in Madrid said was illegal. The referendum is said to be unconstitutional since it would only poll a portion of 46 million Spanish residents. Last week’s referendum was marred by violence and police raids when officers were given orders to confiscate ballot boxes.

Authorities in Catalonia say that the pro-independence vote won the referendum with a 90 percent majority. However, only 43 percent of those eligible to vote turned out to polling stations. In comparison, the referendum on Scottish independence, which was sanctioned by the UK government, saw an 84 percent turnout.

Polls taken shortly before the referendum showed that Catalonia’s residents were roughly divided on secession.

The poll also shows that a majority would support an official referendum if the Spanish government sanctioned it. However, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed that he will not allow Catalonia to break away from the rest of the country. In an interview with a Spanish newspaper, Rajoy said he would consider using any measure “allowed by the law” to stop the region’s separatists.

Common sense

Other rallies were held across Spain on Saturday demanding that President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Charles Puigdemont, and Prime Minister Rajoy negotiate. The hope is they can find a solution to Spain’s worst political crisis for decades.