January 28, 2021

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Home » Content » Election campaign in Catalonia for regional elections will not be marked by independence discussion for the first time since 2012
EL PAÍS has asked candidates of the 10 formations with possibility of obtaining parliamentary representation what they propose to resolve the Catalan situation. The party of Carles Puigdemont, who has fled to Brussels, is the only one that continues to openly defend the unilateral path to secession. The social division caused by the unilateral declaration of independence approved by Parliament on 27 October 2017, the subsequent application of Article 155 of the Constitution and the imprisonment of the leaders have led to the independence movement modulating its political proposal. In the absence of any specific provisions in the electoral programmes, these forces continue to claim the independence of Catalonia as a goal, but in some cases, they have gone down other routes.

PERE RÍOS, Barcelona – 03 JAN 2021 – 09:51 CET

View of the empty Chamber of the Catalan Parliament at the end of December. TONI ALBIR / EFE

Three years after the failed declaration of independence, Catalonia faces the electoral campaign of 14 February with the question of whether secessionism will regain an absolute majority of seats and exceed its goal of 50% of the vote for the first time, or whether citizens will put other priorities first. It remains to be seen to what extent Salvador Illa’s announced candidacy to build an alternative government and emulate that of Catalonia from 2003 to 2010, with the two tripartite parties, can influence the result.

EL PAÍS has asked candidates of the 10 formations with the possibility of obtaining parliamentary representation what they propose to resolve the Catalan situation. In short, Junts per Catalunya, the party of Carles Puigdemont, who has fled to Brussels, is the only one that continues to openly defend the unilateral path to secession. The CUP shares this view, but is open to forcing the State to accept an agreed referendum on independence before 2025. This is an approach shared by Esquerra Republicana and which Catalonia seems to have renounced in Comú Podem, which claims to “strengthen self-government”. The PDeCAT also calls for a referendum, but with international recognition, and Partit Nacionalista de Catalunya (PNC) rejects the unilateral route. The PSC, Ciudadanos and the PP agree that the stage of independence government must be overcome, although with notable nuances. The Socialists talk of “building bridges”; for the Orange Party the important thing is to offer society “security and political stability” and the Popular Party wants to “achieve political alternation for the first time”. With polls predicting that several deputies will be elected, Vox calls for “the freedom of millions of Catalans oppressed by separatism and the ideological offensive of the left”.

The social division caused by the unilateral declaration of independence approved by Parliament on 27 October 2017, the subsequent application of Article 155 of the Constitution and the imprisonment of the leaders have led to the independence movement modulating its political proposal. In the absence of any specific provisions in the electoral programmes, these forces continue to claim the independence of Catalonia as a goal, but in some cases, they have gone down other routes. Thus, Carles Puigdemont’s party proposes in a rhetorical way to “activate the declaration of independence in 2017 with the aim of making effective the constitution of Catalonia as an independent state in the form of a republic”, an expression that is a carbon copy of the question of the illegal referendum of 1 October 2017. Junts has been left alone airing this flag that still connects with tens of thousands of citizens. The former president as head of the electoral poster is an important part of the strategy, knowing that he will never be invested, and that the effective candidate is Laura Borràs.

“We are pro-independentism, and we don’t need to carry a flag in our hands to see that we are. Gesticulation, for others”, assures Pere Aragonès, vice-president of the Generalitat and candidate of ERC. His proposal is “the broad path to independence, to be more, to exceed 50%” of the votes and thus “to put an end to repression and force the State to accept the right to self-determination”. The word that the Republicans are demanding again and again in this whole process is “dialogue”.

The CUP agrees with the nuances of the call for a “broad front” to bring together “left and sovereignist policies”. Its head of the bill is Dolors Sabater, former mayor of Badalona, who is not a member of the party. She claims they would govern with Junts or Esquerra to “condition institutional policy”. Its strategy is different. “We have to mark a distance with tearful projects,” they say. They continue to expressly call for disobedience and warn that “independence cannot be the magic solution proposed by a messianic leader”.

Salvador Illa, the PSC candidate, maintains that his project “is the only one that can prosper” to overcome “the independence drift that has divided society without obtaining any progress or crystallising into greater powers, investments, projects or drive for Catalonia”. His alternative is to “build bridges within Catalonia and between Catalonia and the rest of the peoples of Spain”; and in the face of independence, he proposes “deepening self-government and relations between Spanish institutions”. In the 2015 elections, the Socialists renounced the legal and agreed consultation they had defended until then, which fractured the PSC. “We cannot waste any more time or energy. We are tired of frustration and divisions, of trenches being dug and walls being erected”, says Illa.

Two new brands

Independence is competing in the elections with two new brands. One is the PDeCAT, the party that Puigdemont and most of his people left, but which continues to support with the small mouth of Artur Mas. Its candidate is Àngels Chacón, a business advisor with Quim Torra until shortly before he left the presidency after being disqualified. “The PDeCAT believes in an independent Catalonia to improve the well-being of the Catalans, but the strategy must change. We do not believe in continued confrontation, or in just 50%. We believe in good government,” says Chacón, who calls for “overcoming the current disorientation” caused by Esquerra, “an overflowing party”, and Junts, “more concerned with confrontation than with governing”. His political proposal requires the Spanish government to be “courageous enough to respond to more than two million Catalans” and to accept a referendum.

The other new electoral brand is the Partit Nacionalista de Catalunya (PNC) led by Marta Pascal, former coordinator of the PDeCAT and Member of Parliament in 2017. For this party, independence is not a priority issue. “Let’s turn the page on confrontation, unilateralism and disobedience,” says Pascal. “We will not support any candidate who does not expressly renounce because our proposal is to prioritise the reactivation of Catalonia, to get out of the pandemic and to make a clear commitment to the economic agreement that will allow us to manage all taxes from Catalonia”.

Carlos Carrizosa, the candidate of Ciudadanos, the party that won the elections in 2017 and to which all the polls predict a notable decline, assures that “we must put an end to this horrific decade that Catalonia has gone through”. “It is not possible for us to continue to be impoverished, for the 7,000 companies that left not to return,” he said. His priority is “to put an end to the division of society”. She also said that “the socialists cannot be trusted” and that they would try a new tripartite, the same accusation that Junts made against Esquerra, Blanca Cia. She also said she would make it clear that she was opposed to a pardon for the prisoners of the trial.

Salvador Illa, the PSC candidate, maintains that his project “is the only one that can prosper” to overcome “the independence drift that has divided society without obtaining any progress or crystallising into greater powers, investments, projects or drive for Catalonia”. His alternative is to “build bridges within Catalonia and between Catalonia and the rest of the peoples of Spain”; and in the face of independence, he proposes “deepening self-government and relations between Spanish institutions”. In the 2015 elections, the Socialists renounced the legal and agreed consultation they had defended until then, which fractured the PSC. “We cannot waste any more time or energy. We are tired of frustration and divisions, of trenches being dug and walls being erected”, says Illa.

Leaders in prison

Jéssica Albiach, Catalonia’s candidate in Comú Podem, believes that the “national question” has been “frozen” in the face of the emergencies caused by the health crisis, but it has not disappeared and is very present in Catalan society. “The pro-independence leaders who led the events are still in prison and this is a wound for the pro-independence movement and the country as a whole”. His alternative is “a new Catalanism that updates the great consensus of Catalan society, commits itself fraternally to the transformation of Spain and advances towards the horizon of a plurinational federal republic”.

Alejandro Fernández, the PP candidate, highlights three issues when considering the future of Catalonia: “Coexistence based on harmony and dialogue within the framework of the law, as was done during the Transition”; political alternation, “because in Catalonia the nationalists have always been in charge” and “reasonable governance, because if the CUP holds the key, we already know the consequences”.

Ignacio Garriga, the head of the Vox cartel, declared that “Catalonia is an essential part of Spain and has always been so, like Galicia, Extremadura and Murcia”. “Separatism has invented a propaganda farce that corresponds neither to the history of the region nor to the feelings of the Catalans. Its only aim has always been to divide us and to destroy the diversity of the region,” he said.

Carlos Carrizosa (Ciudadanos)

“We must abandon the horrific decade we have spent in Catalonia. It is not possible for us to continue to be impoverished and for the 7,000 companies that left not to return. We need security and political stability”.

Laura Borràs (Junts per Catalunya)

“We are committed to working towards activating the declaration of independence and making effective the constitution of Catalonia as an independent state in the form of a republic”.

Pere Aragonès (ERC)

“Wide path towards independence, over 50%, ending repression and forcing the state to accept the right of self-determination and amnesty as the only possible way for prisoners and exiles”.

Salvador Illa (PSC)

“The independence drift has divided society without any more powers, investment or drive for Catalonia. We want to build bridges within Catalonia and between Catalonia and the rest of the peoples of Spain”.

Jéssica Albiach (Catalunya en Comú Podem)

“A new Catalanism that commits itself fraternally to the transformation of Spain and advances towards a plurinational federal republic. An agreement of broad majorities to strengthen self-government”.

Dolors Sabater (CUP)

“Assume all the responsibilities to condition institutional policy, put disobedience on the table and force the state to recognize the right to self-determination and hold a referendum”.

Alejandro Fernández (PP)

“Coexistence based on harmony and dialogue within the framework of the law, as in the Transition, political alternation as part of the solution and reasonable governance so as not to depend on the CUP”.

Ángels Chacón (PDeCAT)

“We do not believe in continuous confrontation, nor in just 50%. Independence in Catalonia is a political question that will be resolved through an internationally agreed and recognised referendum”.

Marta Pascal (PNC)

“Let us turn the page on confrontation, unilateralism and disobedience. We have to get out of the pandemic and make a clear commitment to an economic agreement that allows us to manage all taxes”.

Ignacio Garriga (Vox)

“We have come to claim Catalonia’s pride in belonging to Spain, like Extremadura or Murcia, and the freedom of millions of Catalans oppressed by separatism and the ideological offensive of the left.

https://elpais.com/espana/2021-01-02/cataluna-un-voto-lleno-de-incognitas.html

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