Satirical idea gains force to create a breakaway area of Catalonia loyal to Spain

Pro-Tabarnia marchers.
Pro-Tabarnia marchers. / REUTERS
  • Tabarnia would centre on Barcelona and Tarragona and be a separate region of the country, say supporters who marched 'to claim their rights'

With noisy headlines about separatist politicians it's easy to forget that most Catalans voted for non-separatist parties in last December's regional elections. This is especially true of the areas of Barcelona and Tarragona provinces nearest the coast, where pro-independence supporters are in a minority.

This area corresponds roughly to the proposed new region of Tabarnia, a breakaway area from Catalonia where people remain loyal to Spain. The area has its own flag and identity and is increasingly vocal about the rights of its inhabitants.

However Tabarnia is a satirical fantasy started last year by creatives and intellectuals to ironise over the rival, but very real, movement in Catalonia that supports independence from Spain. What started as a joke spread rapidly over social media, showing signs of turning into a real movement. Last Sunday, 4 March some 15,000 people marched in Barcelona in favour of the new pro-Spanish Tabarnia and as a dig in the ribs of secessionists. “We are two million” they claimed, a tongue-in-cheek reference to a common separatist cry. Tabarnia's honourary president didn't attend - sending a video message “from exile” instead.