Tens of thousands of demonstrators, many carrying Spanish and official "senyera" Catalan flags, have gathered on a central Barcelona boulevard in a call for Spain's unity. The atmosphere was festive, reports the AP, as many cheered politicians and central government officials who joined the march. Some chanted "Puigdemont, to jail!" referring to the ousted regional leader who has been fired along with his Cabinet by the Spanish government after an independence declaration Friday. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has also dissolved Catalonia's parliament and called a regional election for Dec. 21. Demonstrators are chanting "Now yes, we are going to vote!" and applauding every time a national police helicopter flies over the crowd. "This is our police!" they chanted.
Ines Arrimadas of the pro-unity Citizens party says "today the silent majority of Catalans are once again taking to the street to show that the majority of Catalans feel Catalan, Spanish, and European." Alex Ramos, president for the pro-union Societat Civil Catalana grassroots platform, says: "We have organized ourselves late, but we are here to show that there is a majority of Catalans that are no longer silent and that no longer want to be silenced." Pro-union forces have made a call for defeating separatists in the early regional election. Commenting on the separatist leader Carles Puigdemont's refusal to step down, the leader of the center-right Citizens party Albert Rivera said separatists were "living in a parallel reality," and that "this is not the time to live in a 'matrix' type of reality. It's time to take over the streets and take over the ballot boxes." (Puigdemont could face rebellion charges.)