Read in Catalan

The majority of those who voted in April for PSOE, the party of acting Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, believe that Madrid should start talks with Barcelona "without red lines", in contrary to their party's policy.

That's one of the main headlines from the survey "Spanish public opinion in the face of the Catalan conflict" produced by Feedback for El Nacional. 1,500 interviews were carried out between 24th and 31st October of this year, just before the official start of campaigning for this Sunday's general election, an election in which Catalonia is one of the main topics.

Asked "do you believe that the government of Spain has to open negotiations without red lines with the government of Catalonia?", 42.7% of all Spaniards say yes. That's almost 10 percent fewer than believe it shouldn't: 52.3%. The numbers reveal a notable disparity in the responses based on where the respondents are living: whilst 74.2% of those in Catalonia and 72.2% of those in the Basque Country said "yes", only 34.6% of those in the rest of Spain did.

Even greater splits of opinion are revealed when the results are broken down based on who respondents voted for in the general election on 28th April this year. 100% of those who voted for pro-independence parties like ERC and JxCat or EH Bildu in the Basque Country agree the Spanish government should start such talks. Only 12.3% of supporters of far-right party Vox, meanwhile, share that opinion, not much lower than the respective proportions of PP (17.6%) and Cs (21.7%) voters.

The most divided party is PSOE, here including its Catalan affiliate PSC. Of their voters, 52.6% believe the government should have started negotiations without red lines, whilst 43.5% support their party's policy. Limited to PSC voters, the percentage who replied "yes" rises to 73.1%, with only 19.3% "no".

Independence referendum

The same difference in opinions between Catalonia and the rest of Spain is seen in many of the other questions, for example: "Are you a supporter of the government of Spain agreeing on an independence referendum with the government of Catalonia?" 66.4% of Catalans said "yes" with only 29.3% saying no. Support for such talks is even higher, albeit only slightly, in the Basque Country: 66.6%. That, however, is precisely double the 33.3% support the idea has in Spain as a whole. In Spain, with the results for Catalonia and the Basque Country removed, 71.2% of respondents would oppose talks on an independence referendum.

Unsurprisingly, given that Spanish parties have repeatedly rejected the idea of a referendum, the breakdown of responses based on who interviewees voted for in April is starkly polarised. Once again, almost 100% of ERC, JxCat and EH Bildu voters would support such talks. PP supporters, meanwhile, show the lowest levels of openness to the idea: 6.8%. Of the Spanish parties, only Unidas Podemos has over 50% of its supporters (68.0% to be precise) who support agreeing on a referendum, the party's stated policy.

If, on the other hand, a referendum were to be agreed on, it would find more people prepared to accept it. In Catalonia, for example, 71.4% would accept a referendum. In Spain as a whole, 43.3% would, up from the 33.3% who would support the process to agree upon one.

Broken down by voting history, the most notable changes are among PSOE, PP and Cs supporters, of whom 46.2%, 12.2% and 36.0% respectively would accept a referendum.

Suspending Catalonia's autonomy

At the other end of the range of options Spain has available when it comes to Catalonia, only the right and far-right Spanish parties support suspending Catalan autonomy again. In Spain, even removing the responses of those in Catalonia and the Basque Country, the idea is only supported by 44.4%. In Catalonia itself, only 18.9% would support the plan. In the whole of Spain, 39.2% would support Madrid taking direct rule again, whilst 47.9% would oppose it.

Broken down by parties, 71.2% of PP voters, 51.8% of Cs voters and 77.6% of Vox voters are in favour of the idea. Among PSOE voters, meanwhile, twice as many oppose the idea (55.8%) as support it (27.1%).