Demo stats, via Confrontación, notes with respect to recent demonstrations that:

  1. The 1.5M claimed by the Barcelona municipal police (the Guàrdia Urbana) for the demonstration last Friday must be a lie, since you can only fit 220K bods into the Passeig de Gràcia.
  2. The same police force reported the credible figure of 5K for the demonstration against the ETA “truce”.
  3. Since the Guàrdia Urbana sometimes gets it approximately right and sometimes gets it completely wrong, some non-statistical factor (ie politics) must be present in their calculations.

I think that an inability to process large numbers is a more likely explanation than malice. This should worry us, for how can the police hope to find adequate solutions for large-scale public order situations if they haven’t got the faintest idea how many people they are dealing with?

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  1. I was at the Ernest Lluch memorial demo on Pg de Gracia, where it was possible to stroll from Arago upwards. 1 million was bandied about as a figure. I’d say a tenth of that. Bods-per-square-metre studies are inaccurate: it took me two hours of photoreporter haste to get from the Cambra de Comerç on Diagonal down to Gran Via during the main anti-war demo in Barcelona. Easily a million, by any counting method. 5,000 for the post ETA ceasefire demo in Pl Sant Jaume is well off the mark: I walked between the umbrella-sheltering clusters with little difficulty, and most of c. Ferran was clear. The big demos have seen Pau Claris nearly as full as Pg de Gracia. Aerial photos and videos should clear these matters up.
    A friend and follower of these statistical quirks who was at the pre-election demo outside the PP headquarters in Barcelona says that 5,000 was a clear underestimate.
    Attendants at last year’s main anti-PHN march, bussed in to Barcelona from all over the shop, were almost certainly underestimated: I saw hundreds of grupitos and families strolling, placards and all, all over the Old Town at all times of day while the Laietana route was packed.

  2. The solution is to get someone who is both numerate and non-partisan to do the arithmetic. I believe that Persians did a lot of the numbers for the Arab hordes at the end of the first millennium, and who better than Mr B to count Catalans at the beginning of the second?

  3. “I think that an inability to process large numbers is a more likely explanation than malice.”

    As we say here: No achaques a la malicia lo que puedas achacar a la incompetencia/ignorancia/…


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