Catalonia: end of an atypical campaign from prison and exile
Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont welcomes support from Brussels, gathered in Barcelona on 15 December 2017
Rally in front of a prison and video conference of the independentist Carles Puigdemont broadcast in one hundred simultaneous meetings: a strange electoral campaign comes to an end in Catalonia, where the voters will decide on Thursday if they want to keep the separatists in power.
The poll in this rich region of northeastern Spain will have been preceded by a campaign between an ultra-mobilized “Spanish-speaking” camp and separatists who accuse the state of trying to muzzle them by pursuing them for rebellion and sedition. after their attempt at secession.
To emphasize this message again, a pro-independence delegation traveled to Estremera prison on Tuesday to meet the press on a plateau beaten by an icy wind some 60 km from Madrid.
Passersby walk past election posters in Barcelona, December 19, 2017
The deposed deputy president Oriol Junqueras and another former regional minister, Joaquin Forn, have been detained for more than a month.
The delegation was expected by twenty right-wing activists shouting “Puigdemont in prison” or “terrorist separatists”.
“I am here to defend my country,” said one of them, Antonio Fuentes, a 56-year-old Andalusian who waved a Spanish flag and armed with a loudspeaker broadcasting patriotic songs.
The political crisis in Catalonia
“Since these pro-independence gentlemen are here to protest against the application of the law, I come to say that it must be applied.”
“We are here to denounce the absolute injustice of having innocent people in prison (…) because of their peaceful ideas, representing the point of view of most citizens of Catalonia,” he said. Catalan MP Antoni Castella, a member of the PDECat party of the dismissed President Carles Puigdemont.
– Crowd bath –
Meanwhile Mr Puigdemont, exiled in Brussels, was preparing a “mega-meeting” of thousands of supporters in a hundred cities, which can listen through a video link.
To return to power, he formed his own list “Together for Catalonia” and said defend the “dignity” of the Catalans against the “humiliations” of Madrid.
The battle for the first place opposes according to the polls the party ERC of Oriol Junqueras, and Ciudadanos, the main formation of opposition to the independentists.
“This can be played to a few voices,” acknowledged Tuesday the leader of Ciudadanos in Catalonia, Ines Arrimadas, La Sexta channel.
“That’s why I ask that no one stay at home … to end the nightmare of the independence process and open a new stage of reconciliation and + seny +”, the common sense Catalan.
In the last regional elections in 2015, the separatists won 47.8% of the vote.
Opposition formations had received more votes, but the separatists had won the majority of seats in Parliament, 72 out of 135.
They then followed a “road map” to lead the region towards independence, ignoring all court decisions and organizing on 1 October a self-determination referendum banned by the constitutional court, peppered with police violence.
After weeks of tension and deep concern in Europe against this secessionist fever, and as hundreds of companies moved their headquarters out of Catalonia, they finally declared independence on 27 October.
The conservative government of Mariano Rajoy responded by placing the region under trusteeship, dismissing the separatist executive and dissolving parliament to call new elections.
Rajoy was Tuesday in Barcelona, where he first took a walk-in bath, encouraged by voters in favor of uninhibited unity.
In the early morning, he broadcast a video of him in shorts doing brisk walking along the harbor.
“This election will decide whether we return to a normal situation, the Constitution, what is reasonable and supposed,” he said at a meeting.
Yet his party, unpopular in Catalonia, still loses ground and could even happen last after the small formation separatist extreme left CUP (Popular Unity Application).