Catalonia Update: Interview with @DemocracyInCatalonia

spain-destroyed-catalonia-crisis-1100279.jpgSome are wondering what is happening in Catalonia since they voted for independence in October and Spain called for a special election. Well, I reached out on Twitter to my Catalan followers and received several responses.  Here is the most detailed response I have received so far:

Angel Fox: Can you tell me what the current situation in Catalonia is?

@DemocracyInCatalonia: 

  1. The current situation is the following: After the referendum on 1 October, the Spanish state initiated a legal offensive. It began before actually. But it hardened after the referendum. Jailing all of the Catalan independence movement leadership became the goal of State prosecutors. The crimes of rebellion, sedition, misappropriations are being used against the former government ministers. Some are in prison in Madrid, some have fled to Belgium. The Spanish government triggered article 155 of the constitution () removing self-rule from Catalonia, but also calling elections. Presumably, Rajoy called elections early on as a result of pressures from the EU (or let’s say Germany), but those would have been in private. The official line so far in Europe is: “we don’t meddle in (other) member states internal affairs”. Anyway, as expected the elections yielded a parliament that looks pretty much the same as the previous one, with some minor changes.

  2. Ciudadanos now concentrates the unionist vote. The unionist vote has been mobilised through Catalan bashing and outrageous lying in the Madrid media. Most mother-tongue Spanish speakers is Catalonia are unionist leaning and get their news from the Madrid media as Catalan media is in Catalan language. They are also generally first or second generation immigrants from other parts of Spain that live in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, the so called industrial belt, aslo know as red belt (beacuse they used to vote socialist) and now called orange belt because they vote Ciudadanos.. in Catalan elections, not Spanish elections, where they vote Podemos.

     
  3. Anyway, Ciudadanos was the most voted party, and the PP collapsed in Catalonia.

  4. So, the pro-independence camp won again with Puigdemont’s party getting over 21% and Junqueras getting 21% too. But Puigdemont is in Belgium and Junqueras in prison.

  5. On 4 January there will be a hearing and the possibility that the judge may release Junqueras who has now been re-elected to take his seat in parliament… personally I don’t expect it to happen. The investiture session is meant to take place on the 17th, and there is talk of Puigdemont being made president by parliament remotely, I guess in writing or videoconference somehow. But the constitutional court will probably not allow that. 19 of the newly elected members of parliament are facing trials and long prison terms..

What will the government do..? I don’t know. It will depend on a variety of pressures and calculations. As important as what the government does right now is what the judiciary does. How directly does the government control prosecutors and judges is not completely clear to me. On the one hand they do appoint them and they share this fanatical ideology about Spanish unity. So with prosecutors, there’s a chain of command and they obey the minister who obeys Rajoy. With judges, be it the supreme court or audiencia nacional, they too are political appointees. But I don’t know if they can just get told what to do..

Angel Fox: What do you see the Spanish government doing next?

@DemocracyInCatalonia: So, I guess I’m not answering your second question. I guess they would like to find a way of stabilizing the situation and to recover normality. Their international standing has taken a hit. Spain is no longer that “friendly albeit sort of average western-European country”, they care about reputation that’s for sure, but Spanish unity is even more important. I am 40 years old, I’ve been living in Barcelona for 18 years, I’m culturally Spanish (as opposed to Catalan), half-Irish (hence my English).. anyway, these are completely unchartered waters for us.

Angel Fox: How are the Catalan people responding to the current situation?

@DemocracyInCatalonia: As to the last question, very quickly: On the pro-independence side there is a very high degree of determination, it has become a question of democracy and dignity. On the unionist side, it is very confusing.. mainly many people who are not usually political have been mobilized to vote through the demonization of separatism by the media. The challenge for the independence movement is to make greater inroads amongst Spanish speakers and convince them about the virtues of the Catalan Republic as a democratic project on which to build the kind of decent society which is impossible within the Spanish state.

It is clear to me that the Catalan people are not giving up. However, the Spanish government is clearly fascist and Rajoy, as a dictator, intends to try and squash their victory and his call for a new election backfired.  President Puigdemont will continue his presidency in exile until these issues can be resolved.  Hopefully, it is done peacefully for the sake of my friends in Catalonia. Peace be with you and love.2017-02-05_lif_27997581_I1.JPG

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