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Catalan election campaign begins / Corsican nationalists’ great advantage ahead of 2nd round vote

1 to 5 December

Struggle between pro-Republic and pro-union stances dominates Catalan election.
Struggle between pro-Republic and pro-union stances dominates Catalan election. Author: David Forniès
WEEKLY ROUNDUP. The campaign of the Catalan Parliament legislative campaign has begun 5 December, pro-independence parties proposing to “build” or “unfold” the Catalan Republic as proclaimed 27 October and unionist parties seeking a majority to “bury”, they say, the independence process once and for all. An election is also being held in Corsica, where pro-autonomy alliance Pè a Corsica has emerged as the strongest party the first round with 45% of the votes cast. Furthermore, thousands have marched for Andalusian sovereignty.


NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Republic, confederalism or involution: Catalan election campaign begins. Pro-independence parties seek to maintain their absolute majority in Parliament to enforce the two pro-Catalan Republic mandates of 27 September 2015 and 1 October 2017, after which independence was declared but not implemented. Together for Catalonia —an alliance including liberal Democratic Party (PDCat) and independents— seeks to “restore” its leader-in-exile Carles Puigdemont to the Catalan presidency and vows to “continue building of the Catalan Republic”. The alliance speaks of “dialogue” with the Spanish government to implement the unborn republic on the ground, and demands the release of political prisoners. Social democrat Republican Left’s (ERC) manifesto includes a proposal of “negotiation” with the Spanish state to deliver independence, and a Catalan constituent “national dialogue”. Anti-capitalist CUP proposes to start “unfolding” the Catalan Republic with or without the agreement of Spain.

On the opposite side, pro-union parties that supported the application of article 155 —which led to the dismissal of the whole Catalan government— hope the election will help bury the independence process. Social democrat PSC-PSOE is proposing a “federal reform” of the Spanish Constitution that recognizes “the Catalan national identity” and establishes a “federal tax agency” where both the Spanish and Catalan government share the management and collection of all taxes. Right-of-centre, Spanish nationalist Citizens’ Party vows to “put an end to the separatist process,” as well as to close down all Catalan government offices that, according to party, are at the service of Catalan independence. Citizens’ Party also says it will introduce a “trilingual” education system that will cut the hours of Catalan in schools. Conservative PP is also seeking to strengthen Spain’s unity.

Not belonging to either of the two blocs, left-wing Catalunya en Comú (CeC) again proposes to conversion of Spain into a plurinational state and the establishment of a "confederal relationship" between Catalonia and Spain. It proposes that, to do so, first it was forged "a great country agreement" that would then allow "advance towards the creation" of a Catalan republic. The communes do not specify deadlines and reject the unilateral route.

Opinion polls released over the last weeks say the pro-independence bloc is set to capture 66 to 72 seats, while the unionist bloc supporting article 155 could win 52 to 62 seats. Catalunya en Comú is predicted to secure 7 to 14 seats. The absolute majority is at 68.

MOREOVER

Catalan government members, grassroots leaders to remain jailed. Still regarding Catalonia, Spain’s Supreme Court has decided, 4 December, that Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras and Interior Minister Joaquim Forn remain in preventive detention. But on the same decision, another six Catalan government ministers —Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa, Meritxell Borràs and Carles Mundó— were allowed to leave prison under a 100,000 euro bail each. All the government members were sent to jail 2 November. The Supreme Court has also decided to hold pro-independence grassroots leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez in jail. Both are deprived of freedom since 16 October. Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena links Junqueras, Forn, Cuixart and Sànchez with a supposed “violent explosion” in the days before the 1 October independence referendum. But in fact, not one single pro-independence act of violence took place at that time. Violence, indeed, has been used by Spanish National Police and Civil Guard on the referendum day — which left more than 1,000 civilians injured— and by some Spanish ultranationalist activists during and after demonstrations between September and November.

Success for Corsican nationalists. The Pè a Corsica alliance (made up by pro-autonomy Femu in Corsica and pro-independence Corsica Libera) has won 45.4% of the votes in the first round of the Corsican Assembly election, and thus stands in a good position to achieve an absolute majority of seats at the second round, to be held 10 December. Second placed has been Jean-Martin Mondoloni’s conservative regionalist list (15%) while a Les Républicains-backed French conservative list has stood at 12.8% in third position. Yet another list, that of Macron’s party La République En Marche, has made it to the second round (11.3% of the votes). The remaining three lists —pro-independence Rinnovu (6.7%), French communists (5.6%) and National Front (3.3%)— have scored below 7%, and are thus not eligible to stand alone in the second round.

Thousands demonstrate for Andalusian sovereignty. Having been called to demonstrate by the December 4 Platform and several parties, unions and associations, protesters have taken it to the streets of Málaga demanding that “the Andalusian nation” can “freely” decide its own political future. The march marked the 40th anniversary of a massive, post-Francoera demonstration in which Andalusians demanded a Statute of Autonomy, which they obtained in 1981.

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