For those who haven’t been keeping up on the issues in Catalunya, the point we’re at now is that there is a regional election tomorrow on the 21st–oddly enough Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year. I suppose we can say that it will only get brighter from this point on but that’s hard to imagine.
The brilliant idea behind these elections is that it will “bring a return to democracy in Catalunya” as has been stated by Prime Minister Mariono Rajoy. His Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría has also declared that the “independence movement has been decapitated”. They’re of the opinion that the “silent majority”–who they’re not just convinced of, but are religious about–will rise forth and reclaim Catalunya from these “Catalan Elites” who have gone against the will of the people. Naturally, they state all this after jailing democratically-elected leaders.
There are several aspects that give credence to the fact that those living in Madrid exist in some form of rarefied gas that occupies a place just to the right of reality. For starters, I live in a Catalan village and spend a lot of time in Catalan villages due to wine writing. I’d posit there are actually more independence flags and more independence-leaning people than in Barcelona where the supposed “elites” live. In fact, Carrasclet, a famous guerrilla independence fighter from the early 18th century was born in the village next to mine. It’s not just my imagination as polls prove the idea of an “elite” imposing its will upon a people who ever so truly desire to be Spanish, is bullshit.
Then there’s this election, ie The Fresh Maker. This is going to solve nothing as all the polls going into it are showing that things will remain more or less unchanged with a pro-independence government holding the majority of the seats. It’d serve Rajoy right if his gamble were to lead to more pro-indy seats but that’s probably not going to be the case. There is the issue that apparently nearly a 1/4 of the electorate is undecided and that could swing things greatly as there is predicted to be a historically-massive 85% turn out. There are however two other items that could change things which you’ve most assuredly not heard about in Anglophone media.
Apparently ballots have been mailed out for people who don’t exist but have fully-Spanish names. Also, there are claims that if you wear a yellow ribbon to the polls, the Unionist party monitors can declare those votes invalid as they have been “swayed” by propaganda. The yellow ribbons are a campaign started to show support for the four political prisoners still being held in Spanish prisons. There were others who were let go on quite onerous bail terms you’d usually reserve for murderers.
With Spain not allowing oversight by international election monitors, there could indeed by foul things afoot. It’d be incredibly stupid to do this but then again it was incredibly stupid to have jackbooted thugs beating people who were trying to vote and it was even more stupid to just not have allowed the independence vote to happen in the first place. But that’s not how Partido Popular works. Corruption first, democracy a far, far second.
Obviously, we’ll just have to wait and see, but here’s a cheat sheet to the Catalan political parties who will most likely have seats in the Catalan Parliament at the end of the day tomorrow:
- JxC (Junts per Catalunya)
Center. Spanish Party: None.
The party of Puigdemont (still exiled in Brussels) and was the main party in the former coalition “Junts pel Sí” (Together for the Yes) that was pushing the independence drive and has now devolved back into its two main parts of this and Esquerra. They’re generally pro-business but oddly enough rose to be a major factor in the independence movement via their former leader Artur Mas who was forced out by CUP. This wasn’t a bad move as Mas was just continually stalling on the independence question and basically using it to stay in office.
- ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya)
Left. Spanish Party: None.
A party that’s been pro-Independence and pro-republic for years. They should be the most dominant party but Junts per Catalunya has its holdovers from the days when it was Convergencia & Unió, the latter of which has basically fallen off the political map as they’re very old school, right-leaning, pro-church, and rancid. Esquerra could potentially come out on top in a new coalition government which would be ironic as its leader, Oriol Jonqueras, is currently one of those being held in prison.
- CUP (Candidatures d’Unitat Popular)
Far left. Spanish Party: None.
I feel about them the way I feel about “natural” wine in that I agree with their platform more than any other party in Catalunya but their presentation and invocation of it is just too extreme and can’t function in reality. At times they can look like and indeed be borderline anarchists. At the same time, if it wasn’t for them and their hard line on issues, there would be little progress politically. It’s like that uncle at family gatherings who will shoot his mouth off but ultimately vocalizes what everyone else was thinking.
- Cs (Ciutadans de Catalunya)
Right. Spanish Party: Ciudadanos.
The biggest trick this party has pulled is convincing the media outside Spain that they’re “liberal”. Thankfully some are finally rolling back on the “left” label to call them center or more like center right. In reality, to call them right isn’t out of line as they’re able to get away with a great deal of hateful speeches and demonizing just because the party leaders are quite young. In fact, La Falange, the present-day Fascist party (can you imagine a present-day Nazi party in Germany?!!) endorses them for the vote tomorrow. While now a national party that formed a minority coalition with PP, their leader in Catalunya, Inés Arrimadas says such idiotic and backwards things that I’ve had to stay off the media for some time now as for me, she’s like having a local version of Trump. Important to note however is that despite them picking away votes from PP, they are essentially the same party and they’ve liquidated the pension reserves of the state which surely won’t end well.
- PP (Partit Popular)
Center Right. Spanish Party: Partido Popular.
Not much to say as they’re the ruling party of Spain at the moment and pretty much responsible for both the disastrous crack down on the election, thinking that this 21D affair will fix anything, and of course, being the cause of it all in the first place. A more incompetent party in Spain, I can’t think of. The only solace as that they continue to lose seats in Catalunya given that even people who believe in their leanings are having trouble with what they’re doing and are drifting to Cs.
- PSC (Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya)
Center. Spanish Party: Partido Socialista Obrero Español.
This used to be the opposition until nationally they cut a backdoor deal with PP to power share under the table. In Catalunya there used to be a great affinity for them until they kicked anyone with independence leanings out of the party. Rightfully, much like PP, they’ve continued to lose seats in Parliament although they still manage to cling on to a few.
Ni Carn Ni Peix
- CeC (Catalunya En Comú)
Center Left. Spanish Party: Podemos.
This is basically the regional level of the party that runs Barcelona and they fall in line with Ada Colau. I used to think a great deal of her until she started trying to straddle both sides of the fence seeming to sympathize with the independence movement while at the same time being pro union. There really isn’t any middle ground on the issue these days and it’s quite clear that this individual who came up as a grassroots organizer has become part of the machine and this party, that’s aligned with Podemos nationally, really have no firm footing, thus the category I give it of “neither meat nor fish”, essentially nothing but words. This is why they don’t count either as pro indy or pro union because they claim to be “center”. I can only hope they lose seats as in the next Barcelona election, Colau needs to be sent packing.
And that’s essentially it. We’ll see how tomorrow shakes up and the fact that political polls are extremely unreliable does put a lot up in the air. Still, unless Spain has a fix up their sleeves, it’s very hard to see how the polls won’t turn out to be true; essentially a stalemate. It will then remain to be seen if Rajoy follows through on his threat to dissolve the Parliament again (applying this Article 155) in which case we’d just enter a surreal state of existence. It’s become quite clear that unless armed conflict were to break out, because this is not happening in English, the world at large is fully unaware of what’s occurring and is simply choosing to ignore it.