Spanish general election campaign gets underway

The pre-campaign period was marked by the banning of leftist parties in the Basque Country. The options open to pro-independence parties vary from region to region. Some campaigns will offer alternatives to party-line voting.

The traditional midnight posting of electoral banners marked the beginning of the campaign for the election of deputies to the Spanish Parliament (Congreso de los Diputados), to be held on 9 March. The debate has been monopolized so far by the two parties that currently hold the most seats, the People's Party (PP) and Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), and has centred on the economy. The Basque nationalist left has been a notable topic of discussion: in the last fortnight the two parties representing the Basque nationalist left, Basque Nationalist Action (ANB) and the Communist Party of the Basque Lands (PCTB), have been banned from the elections by the Spanish justice system and all members of the National Board of Batasuna have been given prison sentences.

As the secessionist and nationalist parties in the Spanish state's various nations begin campaigning, different options are open to them and they are choosing to take different approaches. In Catalonia, Convergència i Unió (CiU) has adopted the slogan ‘Your vote will get Catalonia respected,' while the slogan for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) reads ‘Our objective: a first-rate country (that's why we want independence).' In Valencia, the Bloc-Iniciativa-Verds coalition is the nationalist option with the greatest potential to do well. Out of all the Catalan Countries (Països Catalans), the biggest news comes from the Balearic Islands, where the new coalition, Unió per les Illes, has managed to attract the support of most of the islands' nationalist parties.

In the Basque Country, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNB) has chosen not to mention independence in their slogan (‘I live in Euskadi. And where do you live?'), although they plan to hold a referendum on self-determination in October. Electoral banners for Eusko Alkartasuna (EA) read ‘Shout for Independence! Shout for Euskal Herria! Shout for Peace!' and define the party as ‘the voice of the people.' Aralar, which will attempt to win the abertzale vote, has opted for the slogan ‘The new left. The left of the homeland.'

And finally, in Galicia, the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) has come up with the slogan ‘With you, Galicia decides!' in a campaign that will try to break the bipartisanship between the two major parties.

The alternatives to voting
People are not only being asked to vote for parties in this campaign. There are several movements that are offering alternatives. Following their election ban, the abertzale left are encouraging people to abstain from voting in order to "stand up to the fascist state".

In the Catalan Countries, the Platform for the Right to Decide and Sovereignty and Progress [campaign] are not backing any particular party, but will instead collect signatures on the day of the election itself so that the Catalan people "can vote for the right to decide."