Rally against court decision goes down in Catalan history

Hundreds of thousands take to the streets of Barcelona and call upon Catalan political parties to make steps towards Catalonia’s full sovereignty · Pro-independence flags (estelades) and slogans in support of independence predominate in the demonstration, which was organized under the motto “We are a Nation. We decide” · Politicians and analysts point out July 10 marks a turning point in Catalan politics.

The Catalan movement for independence made a significant step in Barcelona last Saturday after the Spanish Constitutional Court issued its final decision on the Catalan Statute of Autonomy. The statute was cut back again after it was approved in a popular referendum in 2006. More than 1 million people rallied and made a shout for independence out of the demonstration, which was organized by Òmnium Cultural under the slogan “We are a Nation. We decide”.

More than 1.700 associations from all over the Catalan Countries, most of the Catalan political parties in Parliament and out of it –PSC, CiU, ERC, ICV-EUiA, CUP and Reagrupament– and the country’s main trade unions gave support to the march. Massive attendance tuned it to be an historic milestone in Catalonians’ collective mindset.

Parties speak of unity

Unanimous response by citizens and the pro-independence overtone adopted by participants made analysts speak of a new scenario in Catalan politics. Early this Monday Catalan political parties set out to express their views on which steps should follow from now on. With slight differences, parliamentary parties that promoted the reform of the Catalan self-government Charter in 2005 mentioned the words unity or common front. Governmental parties ERC (progressive pro-independence supporters) and ICV (Catalan eco-socialists), as well as opposition party CiU (conservative Catalan nationalists) said they aim at joining forces in the Catalan Parliament and the Spanish Congress so that people’s clamor in the streets, that is to say, that Catalonia wants and has the right to decide its final political status, can be transferred within the institutions.

As regards PSC (Catalan Labour Party, with close links to Spanish PSOE), party officials are reluctant to display such power in Madrid, as their 25 seats could put PSOE’s parliamentary majority at risk. However, party’s goals are manifestly diverging. PSC believes it is still worth to fight for the full text once approved by Catalonians in a referendum. According to them, it is still feasible to negotiate with the Spanish government, although results can be unforeseeable. It is likely that Catalan and Spanish presidents, José Montilla and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, will meet soon for the first time after the Statute political crisis to that end.

Another alternative would be to reform the Spanish Constitution so that the Statute approved in 2006 by the Catalan people met the constitutional principles. Such is the move backed by Joan Saura, one of the leaders of ICV.

On the other hand, ERC officials said they are in favour of an agreement among Catalan parties, but remarked that the future of Catalonia cannot be left in the hands of mere pro-autonomy parties. ERC’s leader Joan Puigcercós declared his party will not hesitate to make a common front to “defend the dignity of the people of Catalonia”.

CiU officials said the common denominator of Catalanism must be met: a series of aspects on which agreement could be easily reached: nationhood, Catalan language, economic resources and the country’s own culture and institutions. They further added PSC might not have “free hands” in Madrid, as Montilla’s party has close ties with the Spanish Labour.

Photos: The head of the demonstration (Flickr - Saül Gordillo), and an aerial photo (Twitter - dgperis).

Further information:

News at Catalan media:

News at international media, compiled by col·lectiu Emma (here and also here).