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New Mass Resistance as Spanish State Jails Catalan Ministers

Judge Carmen Lamela of Spain’s National High Court – direct descendant of the fascist Franco-era Court of Public Order – took the battle of the Spanish state towards the Catalan pro-independence authorities to a brand new stage of judicial violence on November 2.

50,000 march in Bilbao, Basque country.

50,000 march in Bilbao, Basque nation, in solidarity with Catalonia and political prisoners.

It was not sufficient that the 2 leaders of the Catalan mass pro-independence organizations the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Catalan cultural and language affiliation Omnium Cultural, have been already in jail. It was not sufficient that the Catalan authorities had been sacked on October 27 underneath article 155 of the Spanish structure. Now the deposed ministers needed to be humiliated.

Facing prices of insurrection (as much as 30 years jail), sedition (as much as 15 years jail) and misuse of public cash, eight of the ministers have been despatched into preventive detention, supposedly to stop them destroying proof and fleeing the Spanish state.

The choice instantly provoked a brand new large storm of protest throughout Catalonia. There have been demonstrations outdoors city halls and the nation’s parliament and a deafening night cassolada (banging of pots and pans). A deliberate November 12 demonstration in Barcelona seems to be set to be oceanic.

The minority, however quickly rising, Intersindical-CSC commerce union confederation has already referred to as a normal strike within the coming days.

The decide’s motion was instantly denounced by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who’s in Belgium together with his remaining 4 ministers. It is anticipated they may quickly be topic to a European arrest warrant, however it’s removed from sure that the Belgian authorized system will return them to the Spanish state.

December 21 Poll

The detentions may even influence the controversy inside Catalonia’s pro-independence and pro-sovereignty events over the snap December 21 elections. The new elections have been referred to as by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as a part of his plan to marginalize the Catalan independence motion.

Rajoy introduced his intervention underneath article 155 of the Spanish structure on the identical day the Catalan parliament formally declared an impartial republic. In the aftermath, a battle of place was nearly universally anticipated: Rajoy and Co would transfer to behead the Catalan authorities, sack its senior executives, purge the Catalan police, public broadcasting and training programs, supply election bribes to elements of the inhabitants after which – and solely then – threat regional elections.

No different technique appeared attainable in a rustic the place unionism (“constitutionalism” to its supporters) had received lower than 40 per cent of the vote on the September 2015 “plebiscitary” Catalan elections that put pro-independence forces into authorities. So it was a shock for all sides when Rajoy moved with lightning pace – for the primary time in his political life – to name Catalan elections for December 21.

Three foremost elements decided this choice to go early. Firstly, confidence that the appreciable physique of pro-Spanish voters who historically do not vote in Catalan elections could possibly be mobilized by a hysterical marketing campaign towards secessionism. Secondly, hope that the pro-independence camp will cut up between these favouring a boycott of December 21 and those that assist standing. The third and most urgent want was to finish, as soon as and for all, the worldwide debate in regards to the legitimacy of latest Spanish state actions (reminiscent of sacking an elected authorities).

The greatest threat with Rajoy’s transfer is that it might create unity among the many typically fractious pro-independence and pro-sovereignty forces. This might happen behind an election marketing campaign to validate the Catalan Republic declared by parliament on October 27, or behind a broader marketing campaign to oppose Madrid’s 155 coup and construct assist for a Catalan proper to resolve.

At the time of writing, the Spanish People’s Party (PP) authorities’s hope of frightening a cut up between pro-independence forces in favour of a boycott and those that will stand on December 21 seems to be to be failing. This appears particularly so after Puigdemont introduced at an October 31 Brussels media convention that the Catalan independence motion was not afraid of the poll field.

The November 2 jailing of the ministers solely makes a extra united strategy by forces deciding to face extra doubtless. The conservative nationalist Catalan European Democratic Party (PDECat) and the centre-left nationalist Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), companions in the outgoing Together for the Yes (JxSi) ruling coalition, had beforehand each introduced they might “meet Rajoy at the polls.” Media studies counsel opinion throughout the anti-capitalist pro-independence People’s Unity List (CUP) was additionally swinging that manner.


The preliminary intestine response of many pro-independence activists on listening to about Rajoy’s election announcement was to say the independence motion ought to boycott. This response didn’t simply come from the CUP (whose MP Mireia Boya tweeted that it will be an excellent day for a group paella).

Members of PDECat and the ERC additionally condemned Rajoy’s elections as ‘illegitimate’. David Font, PDECat mayor of Gironella, stated: “Let’s see if these elections Rajoy wants to have on December 21 he doesn’t have to have in the streets, because the councils aren’t going to provide halls.”

Joan Manuel Tresserras, near the ERC and a former Catalan tradition minister, informed the day by day Ara on October 30 that pro-independence forces ought to “certainly not” run on December 21.

He added: “Another factor could be if it would not be proper to name the constituent elections [envisaged in the Catalan Law of Jurisdictional Transition] and, if needed, even have them on the identical day as these referred to as by the Spanish authorities.

“It is important that the government make a proposal and that this be discussed and agreed with the CUP and the other components of the pro-independence bloc. If The Commons [Catalunya en Comu, the left-wing party of Barcelona mayor Adu Colau that supports the right to decide but not necessarily independence] are there too, all the better.”

Impact of Madrid’s Coup

However, these kinds of projections have been rapidly invalidated by the actual state of play in Catalonia ensuing from Madrid’s coup. That introduced the Catalan independence advance, and all the longer term projections arising from the October 27 independence declaration, to a halt.

The declaration of the impartial Catalan Republic was, with out doubt, an inspiring and proud second for lots of of 1000’s of Catalans. It was the results of a decade of wrestle culminating within the extraordinary David-over-Goliath achievement of holding the October 1 referendum underneath assault from 10,000 Spanish state police.

It was additionally one thing that older generations of militants thought they might by no means reside to see. Now the Catalan Republic lives within the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands, and the Catalan wrestle exists as by no means earlier than as a spectre haunting European, and even world, politics.

Yet, only one week after the Spanish state takeover, a lot of the institutional buildings of the Catalan Republic have been demolished:

  • The Catalan police have been introduced underneath the management of the Spanish inside ministry and their earlier chief sacked;
  • Police safety was withdrawn from Puigdemont and his ministers;
  • All Catalan diplomatic missions have been terminated, with the exception of Brussels, the place the Catalan consultant to the European Union has been sacked;
  • All Catalan businesses related to the transition to independence have been closed down;
  • The parliament has been suspended, a state of affairs accepted by speaker Carme Forcadell; and
  • Puigdemont, his ministers, Forcadell and the opposite members of the speakership panel who allowed debate and the vote on independence face prices of insurrection and sedition.

In this example, calling for the Puigdemont authorities to implement the resolutions hooked up to the declaration of independence will not be sensible. His cupboard is in no situation to make them operative.

The impossibility of constructing and defending the establishments of the fledgling Catalan Republic after the Rajoy coup has made participating in the December 21 ballot inevitable: the considered what the PP and Citizens would do with Catalonia’s establishments in the event that they acquired their palms on them finally makes a boycott unthinkable.


However, the political power of the Puigdemont authorities has not vanished. The president’s October 31 Brussels media convention with 5 of his ministers, attended by 300 journalists, was proof of that.

Puigdemont appealed to the world in regards to the primary questions at stake within the Catalan wrestle: Do the Catalans have a proper to self-determination? Is the Spanish structure and authorized system democratic? Was the October 1 referendum binding?

The aim of the convention was to enchantment to the bizarre residents of Europe over the heads of the European establishments which have lined up with the Rajoy authorities. This aimed toward elevating stress for negotiations and dialogue, which a number of European leaders have talked about.

Puigdemont stated he would settle for the results of the December 21 election and challenged Rajoy to do the identical. He additionally challenged the European Union and the worldwide group to assist Catalonia’s proper to self-determination.

He denounced the authorized motion taken towards his authorities for doing what it promised to do, and repeated the dedication of the federal government, pro-independence events and mass motion to non-violent strategies – even whereas calling on Catalans to withstand Madrid’s assault on Catalonia’s establishments.

Puigdemont was additionally explaining to independence supporters in Catalonia thrown by the Madrid coup how the strategic place had modified, in addition to placing the Spanish political and authorized system on trial.

The beheading of the Catalan authorities by no means means standard resistance has ended, because the November 2 protests confirmed.

If the managers imposed from Madrid transfer towards Catalonia’s firefighters, railway employees, lecturers, well being employees and different public servants, they may doubtless run right into a wall of non-cooperation. They will face resistance organized by probably the most lively commerce union confederation and the Committees to Defend the Republic.

The nation’s 750-plus pro-independence councils (out of a complete of 947) may even proceed to challenge the symbols of the Catalan Republic and manage what disobedience they deem attainable of their “liberated zones.”

Approaches to December 21

This actuality has led all pro-independence and pro-sovereignty forces in Catalonia – with the attainable exception of the CUP that may resolve its strategy on November 12 – to simply accept the necessity to stand in Rajoy’s “illegitimate” December 21 election.

Before November 2, it appeared unlikely this marketing campaign would see a brand new version of the JxSi alliance between PDECat and ERC. This was regardless of ANC and Omnium Cultural urgent for a single pro-independence ticket, doubtlessly headed by Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the jailed leaders of those mass organizations.

The proper nationalist PDECat has been the massive loser from the independence course of (and is now all the way down to 10% within the newest polls in comparison with 31% for its as soon as junior companion the ERC). The temper in PDECat has been one among eager to get better conservative Catalan voters unnerved by the independence course of’s leftward shift.

Former enterprise minister Santi Vila, who publicly opposed the October 27 independence declaration, has put himself ahead because the chief of this “moderate independentism.” He will, nonetheless, be opposed by different PDECat leaders who stay loyal to Puigdemont and the independence course of.

The ERC scheme for December 21 has been that of a “republican front” that excludes PDECat, whereas attempting to draw unaffiliated independence activists and, particularly, Podemos Catalonia. Led by Albano Dante Fachin, Podemos Catalonia has fallen out with the Podemos management in the Spanish state over the latter’s refusal to ally with any pro-independence forces for December 21.

As for the marketing campaign of Catalunya en Comu, it will likely be led by Xavier Domenech (presently chief of En Como Podem within the Spanish parliament). Its central theme can be defence of Catalonia’s establishments towards Madrid’s intervention.

Podemos Catalonia, which isn’t a part of Catalunya en Comu, has raised the opportunity of a united marketing campaign by all forces – pro-independence or not – that assist a Catalan proper to resolve and oppose Rajoy’s deliberate destruction of Catalan autonomy.

However, Podemos Spanish-wide normal secretary Pablo Iglesias publicly opposes an alliance with pro-independence forces. He judges it would destroy any probability of Catalonia en Comu successful assist from working-class unionist voters – in Catalonia and throughout the Spanish state. Their vote would go to the PSC and even the new-right Citizens.

On October 29, the Podemos’ Spanish-state management instructed Podemos Catalonia to carry a membership ballot with the query: “Do you support Podemos standing in the December 21 elections in coalition with Catalunya en Comu and related political forces that do not approve either the declaration of independence or the application of article 155, with the word Podemos in the name of the coalition and on the voting paper?”

The Iglesias management is nearly sure to win this poll – which Fachin is boycotting – however that consequence will not clear up the problem that the November 2 arrests have dramatized.

That problem is maximise assist for pro-independence and pro-sovereignty forces within the face of what’s sure to be a brutal marketing campaign aimed toward scaring each final doubter about Catalan independence to vote for the unionist events.

To stand an opportunity of defeating it, Catalunya en Comu must do extra than simply saying, because it has so far, “neither 155 nor the unilateral declaration of independence.” •

Dick Nichols is Green Left Weekly‘s European correspondent, primarily based in Barcelona. He is working a reside weblog on the Catalan wrestle for independence.


As a contribution to the controversy on electoral technique in Catalonia, I like to recommend the next remark by Borja de Rique, an eminent Catalan historian, which I’ve extracted from his article in Viento Sur “Poner los pies en el suelo.” My translation from the Spanish model printed in Viento Sur on November 1, 2017. (Richard Fidler)

It is kind of clear that we should take part within the elections of December 21 though they’ve been referred to as by the authorities in Madrid. Not to take part could be an act of folly. We would run the danger that Ms. Arrimadas [leader of the Catalan Citizens party] would change into president of the Generalitat [the Catalan government] and that this establishment would then be transformed right into a kind of provincial workplace topic to the directives of the Spanish authorities. In my opinion, we have now to run within the elections defending anti-repression and pro-sovereignty approaches. Today the political dividing line is located – as has been sufficiently clear for the reason that Sunday demonstration – between those that assist the appliance of article 155 and those that are opposed; between those that assume it’s basic to demand the democratic proper of the Catalan folks to resolve their future and those that argue that the residents of Catalonia do not need that proper.

Just a few days in the past I used to be defending the formation of a unitary candidacy, much like Solidaritat Catalana, together with individuals from the political formations and the residents’ organizations that for greater than seven years have declared themselves in favour of the appropriate to resolve. Faced with the difficulties that this will contain, and making an allowance for the latest statements by the celebration leaders, I feel that at a minimal it can be essential to ask them to incorporate the next three calls for as frequent and precedence components of their applications. First, the discharge of these detained and the keep of proceedings in the entire legal prices, fines and sanctions of a political character. Second, the demand for instant repeal of the appliance of article 155 to the Generalitat. And lastly, the demand for a binding referendum with ensures regarding the way forward for Catalonia.

If it may be demonstrated with actual votes that greater than two thirds of the residents of Catalonia want to be consulted in a binding referendum, reject the appliance of 155 and demand amnesty, that may display to worldwide opinion the intransigence and political blindness of the Rajoy authorities and favour the probabilities for mediation to realize a referendum.

It might also be needed to consider a program for presidency with broad parliamentary assist that after the electoral victory will rigorously make sure that this program is carried out. We need to be sensible: even after a hypothetical victory, we are going to face an extended interval of tensions with the federal government in Madrid and their worldwide counterparts. Nor ought to we low cost the necessity for a unitary Catalan technique of intervention in Spanish politics to attempt to get Mariano Rajoy and the PP out of the federal government in Madrid and create a political situation extra beneficial to negotiation.

Things being what they’re, it’s essential to keep away from the political confrontation being centered on the Catalan Republic, the proclamation of which was questionable. That will not be the dilemma that have to be put to residents within the forthcoming elections. The pro-sovereignty motion should go on rising its power and never threat dropping it. There are social sectors that till very not too long ago have been in an expectant place, with doubts in regards to the course of, however who weren’t hostile to it and who have been angered by the police brutality of October 1. We should not lose that social layer, which can be electorally decisive at a time when the forces defending article 155 are mobilizing individuals who till not too long ago have been pretty passive and detached. I feel that the political different to the unionist sectors ought to be clearly centered, mixed with the aforementioned anti-repression calls for, on the demand for a democratic session on the way forward for Catalonia that’s totally assured. •

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