“King Charles has been every day on horseback, sometimes at Montjuic, sometimes round the city Ramparts, and is, indeed, the Life and Soul of the People, who seem not the least dismayed; the shops are daily open, every trade goes forward; the women laugh, and the boys sing; and all sleep at night without dreaming of sieges; not but we stand upon our guard, which is reckoned as diversion, not a hardship: so hearty are they on this occasion.”
I am an independentist. Let’s get that out of the way. My opinions about the #27s Catalan elections are neither influenced by the media or by my hopes. As a matter of fact, I am just trying to be realistic about the meaning of Sunday’s results.
For one, politics is changing in Spain. “New” parties are rising from an ever bi-party society. Both PP (the current government and what I consider to be the extreme right anti-catalanist party) and PSOE (considered “leftist” but just as anti-catalanist) are losing most of their voters. Meanwhile, younger parties such as Podemos and Ciudadanos are emerging strong in the scene. I have the impression these two younger parties will eventually take over the bipolarity of Spanish voters.
Surely, both leading parties paid the price for the constant corruption cases over the last 30 years and their “replacements” played the card of transparency which is so in vogue in today’s European democracies.
Ciudadanos made it literal when Albert Rivera, its president, decided to go naked on their first well known electoral commercial. He liked the experience and some years later decided to repeat it and appear naked again, along with other pregnant women. Certainly, their creative minds could not go further than to use nudity over political arguments. We hope though, with yesterday’s raise of votes, that they will now spare our eyes and buy some new clothes. We know you think you are hot Albert, but time passes by for us all.
Despite their obvious favouritism for nude beaches, Ciutadanos is leaning further and further to the right side of the force. Their representatives have repeatedly stated the anti-catalanist nature of the Party. They believe to be the only ones, the chosen ones to “stop the independentist movement” and assure “catalans remain being spanish”. Heroes them all. Certainly such speech, backed up with their results in the catalan elections, will grant them lots of votes in a country with clear animosity towards the catalan nation. And yet, as political rhetoric go it is quite void.
When a minority becomes persecuted politically, legally and socially and that represents the best political argument for any party, how do you call it? We give it many names here in Catalonia and none of them resemble democracy.
Ciutadanos regional representative Inés Arrimadas, native from Jerez, arrived in Catalonia in 2006. She must be highly gifted to have understood the nation so deeply as to dare to represent it in the 9 years she has been here. She does not really speak catalan, of course, but not that it matters. In the end, Catalonia to them is no more than the name of a weird Spanish land; its culture, its language and its history is ultimately irrelevant. It has become so old fashioned to care about History anyway.
On the other side of the coin stands Podemos and their catalan version: catsíqueespot. Am I the only one to think that was really badly named? For instance “sí podem”, would have been a much more readable alternative. Although truth to be told, the word “yes” in their name must have been a typo hearing the latest declarations by Pablo Iglesias: “if we rule in Spain, we will be able to build a country project, a country project called: Spain, in which there will be space for a nation called Catalunya“. Why thank you Pablo, it is so nice of you to count us in. For a party that defended the Catalan right for a referendum, these last declarations – possibly moved by their epic fail in votes- prove that their self proclaimed left ideals are not as strong as their desire to be popular in Spain. We cannot all fit in your party mate.
But enough with the criticisms… Oh wait, I forgot to mention the greatest advert in the History of Politcal Marketing of all times! Can’t do, must be acknowledged. PP went for a desperate, so desperate, try to reach out to their Catalan subjects (subjugated to them being their main goal) and created this TV commercial:
For the ones who cannot understand it, basically you have the people from PP speaking catalan and saying they love Catalonia. Taking into account this is the same party whose former Education Minister promised to “hispanicize” catalan children, this comes out as some bizarre SM message, Mariono Rajoy’s face is proof of that (but… didn’t we hate catalans?).
One thing we can say for sure: the catalan society is radicalizing in two main sides, sovereigntist and unionist. It is true the independentist – sovereigntist- movement did not reach fifty per cent this Sunday with a 48%, roughly, of the votes. It is also true neither did the unionist. We obviously cannot add to the unionist side parties who would allow a legal referendum or whose ideals rely in animals rights. Therefore, we can say that the “NO” side is slightly below the “YES” side and in between you have a few parties filling in the gray areas. If anything, we should add the minority Catalan Pirate Party to the “YES” list since in their last party query, 95% of their voters declared to be in favour of independence.
What we could have, though, if Junts pel sí and CUP united is majority of pro independence parliamentarian seats and THAT is amazing. I read a tweet the other day that said the following:
“We wanted more (votes), of course. But in 1991, in the Parliament, there were only 3 deputies openly independentist. Now there are 72!”
The independence boom which began increasing rapidly from 2011 has changed not only Catalonia but also Spain in the eyes of the world. Perhaps some people wanted an easy win but we are talking of a centenarian struggle that might not be resolved in a few years. What we are doing now is not solely for today but for tomorrow, for next year, for the next decade, for the next century. We are, right now, building the foundations of a constitution to be.
How unique, in political terms, is that left, right, centre parties all unite together for a common goal? When have we seen this in the history of this country? This is a true compromise with our future.
And because of this reason I did not vote CUP unlike the rest of my friends. We need a diverse unity, therefore a representative unity, in order to break free from Spain and have a plural new country. At this point in this game of thrones, to play the separatist role inside the so called separatist movement is just a pose. CUP the meta-separatists? I don’t think so. They are boosting now with their unprecedented electoral success without realizing as fast as it came it can go if they do not cast aside personal vendettas in order to effectively represent the wishes of their electorate. I can say the same about Artur Mas though. If it came to a point in which only he stepping down could make the process possible, could he put aside his ego to make it all happen? At the moment, negotiations are still taking place and so I will say no more, only this one thought: it is known in the History of Catalonia that the fragmentation among republicans cost us more than one cause. Isn’t it time to change History already? On this note, I will quote a very interesting article I read the other day:
“Doubt: Will ERC, Romeva and some independentists allow Mas not to be president? Will they maintain the treaty which made Junts pel sí possible, no matter what? Will CUP force a change of candidate knowing they have the 8,21% of the votes in front of the 39,55% of Junts pel sí? And won’t this be contrary to the idea that decisions must be taken by majorities and not minorities? Is it known what consequences could entail having Mas killed politically? In a moment to gather forces, is it worth it to generate distrust in specific social sectors? Will the international community understand such a change now of all times?”
This controversy over the Generalitat’s president emphasizes the great need for a genuinely charismatic spokesperson. We had some in the past. It will come to everyone’s mind the well loved Lluís Companys who was executed by the fascist forces in 1940 in Montjuic. I mention him, and not others, for his absolute devotion to a single cause called freedom which, eventually, would take his life. Such compromise, such vision, such honesty and courage is what we need now. Someone who even the new ciutadanos voter can related to; not because of their profound Catalan spirit – which will not be the case for such voters- but because of the project we have in hands. This is such an exciting time for politics, for the new generations to see a country being reborn and evolve. A place in which no one will need to renounce to their identity or language, a place that will cherish progress and reform and that will try again and again when it fails. A place that could be beyond frontiers and flags. It is possible. Only cynicism can stand on our way. Yes, it could be worse. And yes, it could be better. Let’s face it, it would not be that hard to make it better. Let’s embark on.
A charismatic leader could reach to all audiences and mobilize the 20% of “I could not care less” remaining in Catalonia. It is my impression such leader could be found among the younger generations. No, it does not need to be handsome or young per se to try to win some “coolness” contest with ciudadanos. But it does need to be someone who can understand and use new technologies on its favour without needing some intern to update the antivirus. My generation is ready, they are just lacking confidence I believe. And it is no wonder since all they have seen as adults was recession and rejection. They would never wish to be politicians. They are ideologists. And we most definitely need some new ideas to bring the percentage closer to the “YES” vote. This is our quest now; not to talk about the differences but about things which we all want.
I would like to take a moment to talk about the syndicates now that we are at it. I think it is commonly known and, even worse, accepted that our socialist syndicates are completely corrupted. Unfortunately, one somehow expects that from the political class. That is why syndicates exist in the first place, to denounce abuse and keep that class in check. Here though, syndicates stopped fighting for the interest of the working class and, instead, fight for the interest of their own statu quo. What happens when the syndicates are just as corrupt as the political class? I tell you, what happens is that regular citizens will organize. Let’s get this straight: the independentist movement in Catalonia did not come from the political class, syndicates or from any press; it came directly from its citizens. Therefore, when people speak of media pollution we have to understand that these citizens are independent minded and capable to discern. They are even capable to reactivate the political class and send a clear message worldwide by their own mere will. Volunteers have been the key in the republican process and it’s due to them that the independentist movement took place. It is, in all levels, a social revolution. I can see how foreigners could view the constant news about the catalan “smiley” revolution as propaganda but, in all effects, that is a much better headline than violence would be. This is what it entails to have a peaceful exit from Spain. We need support because we do not live in democracy. What other conclusion is there when our leaders are legally prosecuted for organizing a referendum? Illegal referendum, I repeat. That says it all.
Felipe González, a former socialist Spanish President, asked the other day:
Who wishes to be small and seal horizons when it can be grand?
In other words: who wishes to be an insignificant Catalan when it can be a great Spaniard. Where to start? The known History of Spain has been one of constant violence and repression. No democracy in the country ever survived. There was always one empowered leader above others. Nowadays, on the public Spanish TV a former vice-president of the Spanish supreme court “remarked as last resort” the employment of machine guns against civilians. I go on. The current president of the Catalan government, Artur Mas, is about to become Catalonia’s new martyr because of the ineptitude of Spanish politicians to be… democratic. Europe is somehow giving more importance to the unity of its integrated states than to a new fascist regime beginning next door. Spain has been there before. How do you think that francoism began? In 1934, Catalonia had self proclaimed a republic , these are the words of Lluís Companys explaining why:
“Catalans! The monarchical and fascist forces which for some time have pretended to betray the Republic, have succeeded and assaulted the Power. In this grave hour, in the name of the People and the Parliament, the government that has invested me assumes all the faculties from the Power of Catalonia to proclaim the Catalan state of the Federal Republic of Spain and, with the wish to re-establish and strengthen the relationship with the leaders of the general protests against fascism, invites them to establish in Catalonia the Provisional Government of the Republic which will find in our Catalan people the most generous desire for fraternity in the common goal to build a free and magnificent Federal Republic. Catalans! The hour is grave and glorious. The spirit of the president Macià, restorer of la Generalitat, is with us. Everyone in their place and Catalonia and the Republic in the heart of all. Long live Catalonia! Long live the Republic! Long live Freedom!”
You cannot say we have not tried. But words are silenced soon in Spain and new regimes are build up in the ruins of their predecessors. We are in danger. Democracy is in danger. We seem to go and on in a historical loop in aeternum. If Europe allows such a clear attack to the basis of freedom, the so called “western” civilization will tumble.
We long for independence to be able to write our own story for once. Not to have to fight to keep a language alive but let it flow as all organic things do and grow as much as our civilization. Such people, who are still alive in the collective memory, fought against Time and Oblivion to avoid extinction, so it is not a fading night story we tell our kids: Once upon a time there was a kingdom called Catalonia. In an interconnected world that wishes to be multicultural there has to be a place for Catalonia. We all like to hear a foreign accent when we travel and discover a new favourite dish and see horizons we can’t reach from our windows. There has to be place for Catalonia. A world that needed to define human rights in order to recognize them, needs, so desperately, a place like Catalonia. Our mere existence, Mr. Gonzalez, would open horizons. The world isn’t just for the grand ones, there is enough space for everyone no matter how small; for the preservation of singularity in humanity, for the World Heritage.
“Life is atrocious, we know. But precisely because I expect little of the human condition, man’s periods of felicity, his partial progress, his efforts to begin over again and to continue, all seem to me like so many prodigies which nearly compensate for the monstrous mass of ills and defeats, of indifference and error. Catastrophe and ruin will come; disorder will triumph, but order will too, from time to time. Peace will again establish itself between two periods of war; the words humanity, liberty, and justice will here and there regain the meaning which we have tried to give them.”
– Memoirs of Hadrian, Marguerite Yourcenar-