Catalonia: Will the Spanish Government's tactics drive people to the pro-independence movement?

Catalonia: Will the Spanish Government's tactics drive people to the pro-independence movement?

Catalonia: Will the Spanish Government's tactics drive people to the pro-independence movement?

Updated 22 October 2017, 19:25 AEDT

Does invoking a previously unused article of a constitution truly derail the push for Catalonian independence, or does it play into the hands of a movement that may have needed some momentum, asks Europe correspondent James Glenday.

Among the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have been flocking to the streets of Barcelona, there are many who claim to have recently converted to the cause of Catalan independence.

"Each step the Spanish Government is doing it turns more people to independence," says Elena Jimenez from Omnium Cultura, one of Catalonia's big pro-independence cultural organisations.

"That's why we don't really understand the Spanish Government's tactics.

"It's almost like they don't understand us here at all."

As we make our way through the throngs of people shouting chants and waving flags, we meet many who claim they would have never dreamed of taking to the streets just a few years ago.

A few protesting even say they do not want independence.

They've turned up because they're furious a national Government is moving to sack elected regional leaders and taking away powers from Catalonia for the first time.

"This is our Government. We elected them, we want them to do their jobs," Mariona Davi said.

"It's just crazy. Why can't they just talk?"

Of course, the views of a dozen randomly selected people should always be taken with a grain of salt.

There will be some unionists in Catalonia delighted with the tough approach taken by Mariano Rajoy's Government.

Certainly in many other parts of Spain the Prime Minister's actions may be widely greeted with nods of approval.

But in the press, among protesters and in the plazas across this region, there's heated discussion about what the cumulative impact of Madrid's uncompromising approach will be.

Is invoking a never before used article of a constitution to impose direct rule a long-term solution to the current constitutional crisis?

Will it truly derail the push for independence?

Or does this all somewhat play into the hands of a movement that may have needed some momentum?

Until this crisis erupted, polls showed about 70 per cent of Catalans wanted to vote in an independence referendum.

But only 41 per cent were actually in favour of cutting ties with Spain.