Thursday, September 24, 2015

Saber-ratting ahead of Catalan "independence" elections

After the Catalan independence referendum of November 2014 produced a 80.72% in favor of independence, but with very low voter turnout, and this result was flatly ignored by Spain, the Catalan government decided to call plebiscitary elections, which are normal regional elections a bit before schedule and with a twist. 

This twist was initially to gather all pro-independence parties and social movements into a single list that, assuming victory, would manage the declaration and implementation of independence, unilaterally if need be, in two years. Finally the leftist CUP (Popular Unity List) abandoned this plan because it was too much under the control of the two bourgeois parties allied in the current governmet (Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, CDC, and Catalan Republican Left, ERC) and is running on their own ticket. 

The joint list Junts pel Sí (Together for the Yes) is set to win and nearly all polls announce an independentist majority, which must count with the CUP in any case. The key legitimacy question is whether that majority of seats will correspond to a majority of votes. They are close (48-49% in most polls) but not quite there yet. On Sunday night we should get to know, stay tuned because this may be a game changer. 

It must be mentioned that another left-leaning list, Catalunya sí que es Pot (Catalonia Can Indeed, blend of Podemos, United Left and independents), set to be the third group in Parliament, is formally neutral on the issue of independence and tries to focus on social issues instead. Usually the media counts them as anti-independence but they are just not defined and do defend the right to self-determination in any case. The truly unionist parties could get some 38%, mostly around the quasi-fascist Ciutadans (Citizens), while the traditional Spanish twin party is just collapsing to anecdotal irrelevance. 

The latest Diada (Catalan National Day) demo on September 11th, rallied again some 1.5-2 million people in the streets, what is a huge figure in a country of just 7.5 million inhabitants. It may be unclear if they can muster a technical majority but it is very clear that they are a huge force. 

Diada 2015 (ETB photo)

Meanwhile in the military barracks

Yesterday I read that the 22nd Telecommunications Regiment of the Spanish Army, whose base sits right besides the state-owned Spanish Radio-Television (RTVE), has "invited" all workers of this company to swear loyalty to Spain precisely this week. The direction of the entity has backed the offer, which has no precedent whatsoever, not even in Franco's time. 

The poisonous invitation is very symptomatic of which are the state's plans for Catalonia: military intervention and suppression of the autonomy. As the campaign is still ongoing, ministers and other unionist politicians are avoiding this issue and focusing on "how bad" it'd be for Catalonia to become independent, but what will happen after Sunday? 

My expectation is that at some point Spain will just declare the martial law in the secessionist territory and try that way to block their ongoing process of self-determination. The consequences of such development are truly unpredictable. That's how Yugoslavia fell into war: by blocking manu militari the Kosovar process of self-determination. 

Mingled into all this are the all-Spain elections, expected to take place at the latest possible date: December, in which the ruling party PP, as well as the traditional other party PSOE, are set to lose much of their previous support. However a right-wing PP-Ciudadanos coalition or a great coalition PP-PSOE are being speculated about. 

So you are aware of what's going on when the events that will take place. I hope for the best but fear the worst.

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