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Home » Content » The pro-independence debate in Catalonia fades in social networks
Interest in independence in the digital universe falls to pre-referendum levels before the 1-O referendum

Carles Castro, 27 October 2022

Image of the pro-independence demonstration of the Diada a decade ago.

 Roser Vilallonga

Interest in independence in the digital universe falls to pre-referendum levels before the 1-O referendum

The pro-independence debate is languishing on social networks. The digital mirror of social conversation reflects a decline in the presence and activity of this issue. This is recorded in the latest study by the Observatory of Social Conversation in Spain La Vanguardia -LLYC, dedicated to “Independence in Catalonia” and covering the period between 1 January 2017 and 12 October 2022.

The study offers ten significant conclusions. Firstly, it detects a “gradual deactivation of the conversation about independence, both in the conversation in Catalonia and in the rest of Spain”. This decline is “gradual”, as it “begins in 2020 and returns in 2022 to levels similar” to those “of 2017, before the 1-O referendum”. The number of profiles participating in the conversation is reduced by 50% between 2017 and 2022. And there is also a “notable reduction in user activation (messages per profile), although in Catalonia it is still slightly higher than the average for 2017” (due to the influence of the period prior to 1 October).

Paradoxically, this evolution occurs in a context in which “the general conversation about Catalonia has indeed gained users”. That is to say, “excluding issues related to independence”, the number of participating profiles has grown by 15% compared to 2017. And the weight of the conversation about independence within the total conversation about Catalonia has fallen from 63% to 30%.

In retrospect, independence “activated both Catalan users and those from other areas of Spain”, although the latter accounted for “more than 60% of the profiles”. Even so, and “despite the fact that users from the rest of Spain double the number of Catalan profiles”, it is in Catalonia “where more than half of the conversation is generated”. And this “is due to the fact that the number of messages per user is higher in Catalan profiles”.

On the other hand, the 1-O referendum and the trial of the Procés have been “the most relevant milestones in the conversation, both in terms of profiles (30%) and volume of messages”. After them comes the application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, with 20% of profiles, while “pardons have generated less interest, both in terms of messages and profiles”.

Likewise, the recent crisis in the Government of the Generalitat “has barely had any relevance in the conversation about independence”. In fact, “the conversations generated by the rupture between ERC and Junts reach a figure of mentions very similar to the conversations of the first months of 2017, before the referendum”.

The study also detects that, as the years go by, the number of participating communities is reduced, the number of active people is lost and polarisation increases”. 2017 was the year in which the most profiles and communities were activated, but in the last three years “these have been reduced to: Independentistas, Unionist Right and Plurinational Left”. At the same time, the independentistas “accumulate the highest volume of messages and profiles”, although this community “is 60% smaller in 2022 than in 2017”.

At the same time, in the “last two years the Unionist Right has become the community with the highest number of profiles”, while at the same time it has become more radical, as “it is now led by profiles close to Vox”. In contrast, the Unionist Left community has practically “disappeared from the conversation in the last two years”. On the other hand, the Plurinational Left community “accumulated the highest number of profiles in 2019, due to the conversations surrounding the trial of the Procés”.



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