25A, the consolidation of Catalan independentism

25A Calella

The numbers are overwhelming for a little country of 7 million people. An unprecedented case in the world. Catalans have organised themselves acting as a State to organise a radical democratic display. 60000 volunteers (the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games gathered 30000 volunteers and was considered exceptional), 500000 million votes cast, 4 rounds of referendums and more than 400 towns and villages, including two of the Catalan capitals, Girona and Lleida. Yesterday the hashtag used to tweet about the referendum, #consultes, was at the top 4 trending topics in Spain during the whole day. An incredible effort that shows that in Catalonia the political option with the greatest support is independentism.

The Spanish media and the unionist Catalan media have tried to use the 20,8% turnout in this round to qualify them as a failure but they intentionally attempt to hide the real meaning behind the numbers. The smaller percentages are partly because the last two rounds have also involved bigger towns and cities and therefore organisation is much more difficult, especially with the official institutions not only ignoring it but in many cases actively blocking the organisers. Just a note, all criticism has targeted the turnout, nobody has attempted to question the methodology or validity of the referendums.

Considering that the traditional Catalan media (including TV3, the catalan TV, influenced by the unionist party PSC) have intentionally ignored them, that official votings require millions in expenses and that these referendums won’t have any immediate political consequences a 20,8% turnout means a huge success. Anyone who insists in denying its strength or claiming that the remainder 79% would vote against independence is making a big mistake or has deeper and darker reasons to despise a popular exercise of democracy like this. And anyway, if they believe the NO will win so overwhelmingly why are the Spanish so scared of them that they don’t want us to organise one?

The first round back in December was seen as a defiance to Spain so it was easier for it to achieve a 30% turnout, the newness. However, I completely agree with my colleague Manel Bargalló (link in catalan). Voting this time was an act of political activism. Having this amount of independence activists means that the independence choice has effectively no ceiling in Catalonia and means that Catalans of all ages, social backgrounds and political ideas agree that Catalonia needs its own State.

But above all these referendums have served a bigger purpose, to create an extremely active transversal network bringing together the underlying independentist movements and associations from where the leaders who are leading the way towards independence are emerging.

There will be another round in June, involving only a few dozen towns. After that everyone will be watching Barcelona, where the referendum will take place on April the 10th, 2011.

I have no doubt that if a binding referendum was organised tomorrow the YES would overwhelmingly win.

Barcelona will hold its referendum on April the 10th, 2011

Barcelona Decideix

Finally we’ve got a date, the last round, the capital, the last referendum for the independence of Catalonia will take place on April 2011. The organisers of Barcelonadecideix.cat met yesterday and debated about the date with the accumulated experience from the previous rounds of 13D, 28F and the soon to come 25A.

Conscious of the challenge it will pose the organizers have preferred to give themselves plenty of time since this time everyone will be watching. The Barcelona Council, currently with PSOE in power, will not help the organisation by providing polling stations. The organisers calculate that 10000 volunteers will be needed and hope that people from Barcelona and all over Catalonia that have helped in the previous rounds will join to help make it a success.

Unity

25A the next round of referendums

(This is a translation for this article)

Recently it’s been made public that the strategy that the referendums’ National Coordinators want to follow is to promote a binding referendum using the brand new Catalan referendums law. On paper it looks good, we get the signatures. Then we take them to the Parliament, which will evidently approve it and then we take it to Madrid, where they’ll obviously deny it and then we have the conflict. Next we use the right to self-determination and under the supervision of the international bodies to let the Generalitat organise the Referendum.

This all looks good on paper, but, has anybody stopped to think that the execution of all this requires the Catalan Parliament to be clearly independentist? I mean, does anyone still believe that Artur Mas will do the slightest thing to contradict whatever they tell him to do in Spain? The same Mas who negotiated to cut down the Statute, the same Mas of the eternal “now’s not the time”, etc.

I can’t believe that, for instance, someone as intelligent as López Tena, who has proven to be able to organise the referendums until the last detail hasn’t realised that unless Laporta and Reagrupament achieve enough deputies next autumn (maybe adding ERC’s) the process of the Referendum will never reach Madrid, or if it does Mas will do as told from Madrid, he’ll never be able to challenge the Spanish State, he’s had plenty of chances so far. This is not Mas’ struggle, even thought many members of CiU are independentists, it’s current target is to manage the Autonomous Community, make no mistake. If we leave this responsibility in their hands they’ll spoil it.

That’s why I lean towards a declaration of independence, this is way easier and removes many unnecessary and complicated steps. Through this procedure we’ll create a new legality, then we’ll organise as many referendums as we want without anyone interfering.

However, I support all initiatives to achieve independence, but if we want to use the Referendum way we gotta do it well. That’s why I think that everybody, the National Coordinators, Deumil.cat, López Tena, Laporta, Reagrupament, everyone from the Acte d’Estat from a few weeks ago, etc. Everyone. We must start talking with humility, without prominence, we need to create a solid unity candidacy to achieve the greater number of deputies at the next elections to the Catalan Parliament. If we win, we finish the fast way, if we don’t at least we make sure the independentists have a real representation at the Parliament that will work for the Referendum to succeed. I know many people will call me a dreamer for saying this but I know that sooner or later unity will be necessary to achieve the independence, we’ll have to agree whether we like it or not.

What would be irresponsible is to leave in the current parties’ hands all the hard work done until now, they’ll spoil it. The job has to be finished by those who started it. We need the highest representation at the parliament and unity.

Unitat

25A the next round of referendums

Fa poc s’ha fet pública que l’estratègia que la coordinadora nacional de les consultes vol seguir és la d’impulsar un referèndum vinculant mitjançant la llei de consultes. Sobre el paper tot sembla molt bé, s’aconsegueixen les signatures, es porta a la mesa del Parlament, que evidentment l’aprovarà i finalment es porta a Madrid, ens la deneguen i tenim el conflicte servit. Després ens basem en el dret a l’autodeterminació i sota la supervisió dels organismes internacionals per a que la Generalitat convoqui el referèndum.

Tot això està molt bé sobre el paper, però, algú s’ha parat a pensar que l’execució de tot això requereix que el Parlament de Catalunya sigui marcadament independentista? Vull dir, us penseu que per exemple l’Artur Mas farà el més mínim intent de portar la contrària a allò que li diguin a Espanya? El mateix Mas que va pactar la retallada de l’Estatut, el mateix Mas de l’etern “ara no toca”, etc.

No em puc creure que, per exemple, algú tant intel·ligent i que ha demostrat com gestionar les consultes fins a l’últim detall com en López Tena i companyia no hagin caigut en el compte que a no ser que Reagrupament i Laporta arribin i aconsegueixin una quantitat suficient de diputats (potser sumant-hi els d’ERC) el tràmit del referèndum mai arribarà a Madrid, o si hi arriba Mas acatarà el que li diguin a Madrid, mai serà capaç de desafiar l’Estat Espanyol, oportunitats no li han faltan. Aquesta no és la seva batalla, malgrat i que molts militants són independentistes, CiU, ara per ara, és un partit de gestió de l’autonomia, no ens equivoquem. Si es deixa aquesta responsabilitat en les seves mans mai arribarà a materialitzar-se.

Per això jo sóc partidari de la opció de la declaració unilateral d’independència, perquè és molt més simple i elimina moltes passes complicades. Mitjançant aquest procediment es crea una legalitat nova, i després fem tots els referèndums que vulguis sense que ningú ens hi posi impediments.

Malgrat i això estic a favor de totes les iniciatives per a aconseguir la independència, però si es vol utilitzar la via del referèndum s’ha de fer bé. Per això opino que tothom, la Coordinadora Nacional, Deumil.cat, López Tena, Laporta, Reagrupament, tota la gent de l’Acte d’Estat de fa unes setmanes, etc. Tothom. Ens hem de posar a parlar ara mateix, amb humilitat, sense protagonismes, necessitem crear una candidatura sòlida per a treure el màxim nombre de diputats independentistes a les properes eleccions al Parlament. Si guanyem ho acabem per la via ràpida i si no com a mínim ens assegurem que els independentistes tenim representació real al Parlament que treballarà per a que el referèndum prosperi. Sé que alguns em diran somiatruites per proposar això però sé que tard o d’hora la unitat serà necessària per a aconseguir la independència, ens haurem de posar d’acord per força.

El que seria irresponsable és deixar en mans dels partits existents tota la feina feta fins ara, la malbarataran. La feina l’hem d’acabar aquells que l’hem començat. Necessitem la màxima representació parlamentària i unitat.

(You can find here the translation to english of this article)

April the 25th, independence becomes central to the political debate

25A the next round of referendums

A new round of referendums, after rounds of 13S, 13D and 28F the process has taken shape and is unstopabble. Next April the 25th 200 towns and villages will be involved and more than 1 million Catalan citizens will have the right to vote. By the end of this round around half the municipalities in Catalonia will have organized a referendum. After this the aim is to organise one in Barcelona.

Big cities like Girona, Lleida or Manresa are being involved this time and with supporters like Justo Molinero, a popular radio presenter with a huge influence on the Spanish speaking areas in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, like Cornellà, who will campaign for the right of the Catalans to decide (link in Catalan). Former Catalan President Jordi Pujol recently declared that he can’t be against the independence referendums since the pact with Spain has failed, and the debate for independence has to normalise. These declarations are a huge step forward since Jordi Pujol, who was in power for more than 20 years with CiU never before has openly declared himself to be pro-independence.

Turnout might be influenced by a filtration that the Spanish Constitutional Court will finally give a sentence regarding the Catalan Statute (the law that regulates Catalan self-government) this week (link in Catalan). It has taken so far 4 years for the Spanish Constitutional Court to come up with a sentence. No person or court has the moral right to contradict what the citizens have approved in a referendum, this is the foundational principle of democracy and in Spain this is not being respected since the Catalan Statute was voted by the Catalans. The sentence will very likely be very restrictive and rewrite several of the articles. The filtration also illustrates how little independence there is in the Spanish legal system.

The referendums are difficult to ignore and they put pressure on the political parties to position themselves with respect to independence now that the elections are coming next autumn. José Montilla said that he doesn’t want Catalonia to be independent (link in Catalan). He didn’t support this statement with any arguments. Artur Mas, the leader of CiU, the main opposition party and historically the biggest catalanist party, has recently declared that now’s not the time for a referendum (link in Catalan). He claims that the issue divides Catalan society. Maybe he should pay more attention to what Pujol is saying?

Obviously, Montilla’s opinion is not surprising since he is a Spanish unionist (even thought he disguises himself as a catalanist) but it is intriguing that CiU believe that in order to get back in the power they must be as undefined as possible with regards to Catalonia’s sovereignty.

Mas has illustrated this a few times, he declared months ago that in a referendum of independence he’d vote “yes” but shortly after said that “now’s not the time” to organize one. The problem is that he’s never said when would be, in his opinion, a good time for that.

At least it seems that for a significant part of the Catalan society now is indeed as good a time as any other. To contradict Mas’ statements there are several polls and the independence referendums themselves that show that even in traditionally Spanish-speaking areas what actually unites Catalan society is, after all, the conviction that Catalonia needs to become a State in the EU as soon as possible.

28F, a new round of referendums

Berga sí, 13D

Last december the 13th was a big milestone in the history of Catalonia, more than 700000 people in 170 towns across the country where called to vote, and they did, the yes won overwhelmingly, 96% of the votes and with an excellent 28% turnout for a popular initiative with no budget and on a rainy day (you have to be Catalan to understand how hard it is to get people out of home when it rains, no matter what’s at stake) an army of volunteers acomplished the same participation that the government had for the last european elections.

Now the second round of referendums is going to take place this weekend in 79 towns. 300000 people will have the right to vote and and this time many areas with a big proportion of Catalans with a Spanish background, the Spanish immigration from the 60s and 70s, their children and grandchildren, will have the right to vote. The experience of the organizers of the first round has been used and things will run smoothly and will be better organized.

I think it is of the utmost importance that these areas also have the right to cast their vote since they we’ll need everyone’s opinion and also I believe we’ll be surprised with the results since even if many of them feel emotionally attached to Spain to various degrees they also know what is good of Catalonia is good for them, and independence will bring an improvement of their quality of life, especially to those areas, where there’s a high concentration of working and middle low classes since they will be the most benefited from the improvements in public infrastructures and services that independence will bring. I’m sure this weekend Catalonia will give another lesson on the exercise of democracy.

A very interesting week, the aftermath of the 13D

Girl voting on 13D

Many interesting things have happened in the last 10 Days in Catalonia and I wish I had been able to write about them but an intercontinental move, an awful cold I caught thanks to the Siberian cold wave that is sweeping Europe, some socialising and an unreliable internet connection have stopped me from doing so until today. But more to the point, I’ll write a few entries about the events enumerate the topics that I believe are important to be up to date on what’s going on in Catalonia right now.

Firstly, the aftermath of the 13D referendums, there has been some tensions between the organisers of the referendums. The story starts with the organisators splitting in two separate entities back in October, one comprising the consultations that took place in the Osona shire and led by Alfons López Tena and the other one taking care of the rest of the country.

When the results were made public it was clear that even though both organisations did an excellent job Tena’s team had achieved better results by means of a much higher participation and Alfons López Tena publicly criticised the other organisers. This caused some disappointment at first but seems like now both organisations have agreed to work together to learn from the past experiences and make it better in the February and April rounds of referendums.

It also seems that the Barcelona referendum might be held at a later time than the initially planned Apirl the 25th, to which I agree. The day it is done in Barcelona it has to be very carefully planned and the maximum amount of effort will have to be made to make sure it is a non arguable success. Therefore it might be beneficial to have a reasonable amount of time for preparation and as much experience from the previous referendums as possible.

The reaction to the referendums in the Spanish media was the obvious and expected one attempting to minimise it by stressing the “low” participation. They can keep fooling themselves (and their arrogance plays in Catalonia’s favour) but in my opinion if we keep making progress at this pace soon the process of organising a final binding referendum will reach the point of no return.

13D, the countdown for Catalonia’s independence has started today

Catalonia wants independence

Today democracy is a bit stronger in Europe. Catalonia has spoken and it wants independence. With a turnover of almost 30% and 95% vote in favour of Catalonia to become a state within the European Union a clear message has been sent to the world and to Catalan politicians.

The Catalan society has organized itself in an unseen way with no official support, barely no budget but with the combined effort of an army of 20000 volunteers it has managed to organize in just a few weeks a voting that rivals in rigor, reliability and transparency any government promoted votings.

Those who critizise the referendums say that the turnover is not enough but let’s not forget that the 30% percentage is similar to the last European elections, for example, while these referendums had no budget for publicity and were largely ignored by the mainstream media, mostly controlled by the unionist government that only today have decided to give the event the coverage it deserves. Therefore a 30% turnover can only be interpreted as a huge success.

The voting has taken place peacefully and in a celebration atmosphere as people have gradually attended the voting stations from 9h until 20h when the votings have finished.

Even though the votings haven’t been organised by political parties the Catalan parties Reagrupament and ERC promoted to vote YES and CiU have encouraged people to vote while unionist parties PP, PSOE and Ciutadans have questioned the legitimacy of the referendums instead of promoting the vote for the NO.

With these referendums the Catalan independentist movement has achieved three targets:

  1. to bring independence to the first page of the political agenda and achieve the legitimacy that most Catalan politicians were denying it
  2. to force all parties to position themselves on the issue making it more difficult for the unionist parties to hide under a pretended neutrality
  3. to give an enormous international visibility to the Catalan cause

After the results have been made public Carles Móra, mayor of Arenys de Mar, acting as a spokesman for the National Referedums Coordinator, has declared that tomorrow they’ll officially propose a ILP (Popular Legislative Initiative) to urge the Catalan Parliament to hold a national binding referendum next April 25th.

The ball is in the politicians court.

Today I’ve felt deeply proud to be a Catalan. Visca Catalunya!

Sant Jaume de Frontanyà starts the referendum

Sant Jaume de Frontanyà

Today the referendum starts in Sant Jaume de Frontanyà, the smallest village in Catalonia but a very beautiful one. The little village has decided to advance the referendum one day to give it a little publicity, which I find fantastic.

By the way, I’ve installed a widget that allows to see the results of the referendums in real time, thanks to Reagrupament.

Go Catalonia!

“If two million catalans vote in Barcelona the referendum will be binding”

Barcelona Decideix

Next sunday 700000 Catalan citizens in 170 municipalities across Catalonia will vote if they want their country to become a state within the European Union following the popular initiative started in Arenys de Munt las September. More referendums will be hold in March and April and yesterday the platform Barcelona Decideix announced in front of La Sagrada Familia that Barcelona will hold a referendum next April the 25th.

Several personalities like Alfons Godall, vicepresident of FC Barcelona, or Carles Móra, mayor of Arenys de Munt gave support to the initiative and even though they admit that planning this referendum only in 5 months will be a challenge they also said that noone will be able to question the strength of two million votes and that they achieve a high participation not only the referendums will be binding but they’ll also be final.

The organizers have calculated that they need 10000 volunteers to male it a reality although it shouldn’t be a problem since in December’s round of consultations more than 20000 volunteers have supported them all over Catalonia.