TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - At least 460,000 people have signed up for a Barcelona rally to push for a "Catalan Republic", organizers said, though this would represent a marked fall from last year when a million people marched for separation.
The demonstration will take place on a regional holiday commemorating Barcelona's defeat at the hands of troops loyal to Spain's King Philip V in 1714, and the region's subsequent loss of autonomy.
Since 2012, the holiday has been used by separatists to press for independence.
This year's rally will serve also to gauge the group's strength after a referendum on full autonomy on October 1 last year, and the Catalan parliament's unilateral declaration of independence on October 27, all came to naught.
"Separatists will hit the streets to show they are the most organised political force" in Catalonia, Oriol Bartomeus, a politics professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, told AFP.
Catalan president Quim Torra said the march will mark the start of a "mass mobilization".
Further protests are planned for the anniversary of last year's banned referendum, which was marred by clashes between police and voters.
"Our government has committed to implementing the republic," Torra said in a televised speech on Monday evening.
"This is a nation that feels and wants to be free."
Torra wants the central government in Madrid to allow a legally binding independence referendum for the region of 7.5 million people.
Spain's conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on partly autonomous Catalonia after last year's unauthorised plebiscite, and called early elections.
Separatist parties retained a majority, though slim, of seats in the regional assembly.