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Catalans Place Less Faith in Spain's National Government

Catalans Place Less Faith in Spain's National Government

by Ken Kluch and Linda Lyons

Story Highlights

  • 22% of Catalans are confident in government vs. 30% in rest of Spain
  • Catalans rate economy significantly higher than rest of country

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Spain's efforts to prevent Catalans from voting in a referendum on independence Sunday are likely driving a further wedge between the rest of the country and residents of the autonomous region, who lacked faith in Spain's leadership to begin with. Few Spaniards express confidence in their nation's leadership, but this trust is particularly low among Catalans. Only about one in five in Catalonia express confidence in their national government and approve of their nation's leadership, compared with about three in 10 Spaniards living in all other parts of the country.

Catalans Less Confident in Spain's National Leadership
Catalonia Rest of Spain
% %
Approve of country's leadership 20 29
Confident in national government 22 30
Gallup World Poll, 2016-2017

While Spain is deploying thousands of police to the region to try to block the vote, if the vote proceeds this weekend, it will be the second time in three years that Catalans have voted on self-rule. Catalonia has enjoyed considerable autonomy since the 1975 death of Gen. Francisco Franco, whose 36-year rule forcefully suppressed Catalan culture and language. However, in 2012, during Spain's banking crisis, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejected a request from Catalonia's regional government for a more favorable fiscal agreement. This action, among other economic and cultural concerns, stoked separatist fires that triggered a November 2014 vote on Catalan independence -- an informal, nonbinding referendum in which 80% of the region's electorate voted yes.

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Economic Views in Catalonia Differ Widely From the Rest of Spain

Economics played a major role in the last referendum, and it is likely top-of-mind in this one as well. An economic powerhouse that generates one-fifth of Spain's gross domestic product, Catalonia's leaders continue to complain that the region gives more to Madrid than it receives -- further driving a desire for sovereignty. Given the robust economic activity in the region, it may be easy to see why Catalans are more positive than other Spaniards regarding the direction of their local economies. Half of residents of Catalonia (50%) reported economic conditions are getting better in their local area, markedly more optimistic than the 42% in other regions of Spain.

Catalans More Optimistic About Local Economic Prospects
Catalonia Rest of Spain
% %
Getting better 50 42
Same 21 27
Getting worse 29 30
Gallup World Poll, 2016-2017


Catalans say the referendum is legally binding and the national government says it's unconstitutional. Rajoy has strongly opposed Catalan independence and is relying on the courts to stop it. This could be problematic for Catalans who already express less confidence in the judicial system in Spain (36% of Catalans vs. 43% of Spaniards express confidence). Whatever the outcome, there is little doubt that this vote will have widespread legal and political consequences in Madrid throughout the coming months.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted March 14-April 8, 2016, and March 13-April 6, 2017, in Spain. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error ranges from ±2.8 percentage points to ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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