CATALONIA is moving forward, and the population’s mood is tending towards independence, according to business leaders in Barcelona.

If the Spanish government does nothing to satisfy the will for self-determination, the independence movement will grow until it achieves its goal, say Ricard Gonzalez and Roger Brumwell, leading members of the Catalan business organisation FemCAT.

READ MORE: Catalan independence referendum in October was a 'turning point'

Gonzalez, a director of Infraplan, which captures and analyses data adding a geographical component, told The National the change would come about largely through young voters.

“We feel confident that we’re moving forward,” he said.

“For young people it has more importance. If you take someone who a few years ago was 10 years old and will be 18 at the next election, they will not want a government like [Mariano] Rajoy’s.”

Brumwell, who has his own financial and tax advice business, said the aftermath of the October referendum, thuggery from Spain’s National Police and the imposition of direct rule on Catalonia, meant change was now inevitable.

He said: “I know a lot of people who went to vote on October 1 and saw what was happening. They were not pro-independence, but they were pro-democracy and they wanted their vote to be cast and to be valid.

“Others saw what happened and said ‘from now on I want independence. I didn’t before but now I am’.

“Change is coming.”

Neither is a fan of Spain’s new Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez, whom they regard as an unknown quantity too intent on influencing international opinion at the expense of domestic policy.

Brumwell said: “If the prime minister does something to make Catalans happy it will upset the rest of Spain.”

Gonzalez added: “If they do nothing [about Catalan self-determination] the independence movement will grow because they will estrange new voters. Older ones vote for the parties they’ve always voted for, they just accept it because they know the consequences.

“We have to respect what the people decide, for me it is pragmatism. Respect what people want – it’s about democracy which is to obey the people. What’s been happening in Spain with corruption in the political parties has really put them down.

“They’re still voting for the old parties they’ve always voted for, but the population should push their governments to make changes.”

Brumwell said political corruption had almost become the norm for some: “A lot of the population just take it for granted and only understand the system working with corrupt people around it. It’s a cultural and educational thing.”

Gonzalez said the intervention of King Felipe VI in supporting Rajoy’s imposition of direct rule after the indyref appeared to have triggered an upsurge in republicanism.

“We want a Catalan republic, some people would like a Spanish republic, but it’s a minority who want things to stay the same. There are more republicans in Spain every day.

“And the day after the king expressed support for Rajoy’s tactics, people here were saying ‘OK you’re not our king’.”

Brumwell said: “There were a lot of people with the slight hope that maybe he would try to re-join Spain or do something better than what happened. I know a lot of people when they saw it on TV wanted to throw something at it. The few people that had some hope were really disappointed.”