Jordi Sole i Ferrando https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/20006/all cached version 04/07/2018 19:48:55 en Why I won't stop fighting for Catalan independence https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jordi-sole-i-ferrando/why-i-wont-stop-fighting-for-catalan-independence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Pro-independence parties in Catalonia face severe challenges from the Spanish State, but they refuse to give up. A Catalan mayor explains why.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 15.41.34.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/556685/Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 15.41.34.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pro Catalan independence rally In Barcelona, September 2015. Jordi Boixareu/ Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Developments in Catalonia have caught the attention of the worldwide media over the last few years. Since 2012 Catalans have experienced huge civic mobilisations claiming the right to democratically decide their futures. During these last few years many Catalans have stopped believing that they can indeed have a better country inside the Spanish State. The Catalan Government and Parliament have taken each and every possible step to organise a self-determination referendum so that people can choose. Unfortunately, this has all been in vain.</p> <p><span>Being a mayor of a Catalan town myself, I initiated two specific actions during the past few weeks after the vote that took place on 27 September. The first action was to organise a remembrance for former President Lluís Companys on the eve of his execution at the hands of Spanish Francoist authorities in 1940. </span></p><p><span>Lluís Companys, who was head of the Catalan Government as well as president of my party Esquerra Republicana, remains the only democratically elected President to be murdered for political reasons while still in office throughout the whole of European history. After the fall of Barcelona, Companys went into exile in France where he was then detained by the Gestapo in Brittany and handed over to the Spanish authorities. In Spain he faced a fake military trial and was finally executed in Barcelona’s Montjuic fortress. By killing a man, the fascists tried to eliminate a country. As others had tried to do so many times before.</span></p> <p><span>Exactly 75 years after these tragic events, on the very day we were commemorating the murder of President Companys, another Catalan President was summoned before a court. The current President, Artur Mas, is facing criminal charges for allegedly having organised the non-binding consultation on 9 November 2014 where, despite all the threats and intimidation by Madrid, 2.3 million Catalans went to the polls to cast a symbolic vote on self-determination (80% of whom voted for independence). Mr. Mas, along with two other ministers, was charged for disobedience, principle counterfeiting, misuse of public funds and unauthorised seizure of public offices.</span></p> <p><span>On the same day, along with 400 other Catalan mayors, I had demonstrated that morning in front of the Barcelona court palace to defend the very concept of democracy, to say that we were also guilty for having supported and participated in that kind of vote and to stand by the side of our elected President. We demonstrated there because it is simply a shame that the Spanish State tries to punish another Catalan President, this time for having put in place ballot boxes and for having allowed citizens to express their opinion regarding their country’s future.</span></p> <p>In a press statement right after his appearance before the court, Artur Mas explained that he told the judge: “you will have to decide whether I am a criminal or a democrat”. It is simply unacceptable, in a democratic state, that a President can be punished for exercising sheer democracy, for allowing people to vote. It is a shame that this is happening right here in the European Union and for the sake of the unity of a state, a unity that seems to stand above everything, including democratic values and practices. </p> <p><span>While the Spanish government tries its best to show to the world its rather weak democratic credentials and –to put it mildly- its very weak commitment to democratic values, the newly elected Catalan Parliament has got a democratic mandate for independence. So, despite all the disproportionate reactions of the Spanish institutions that try to put a fence around the democratic aspirations of the majority of Catalans and also threaten to put in jail our elected representatives and to suspend our own institutions, the trajectory towards independence goes on.</span></p> <p><span>Since it has become impossible to organise an agreed and binding referendum like the Scottish one, the last parliamentary elections held on 27 September 27 had a plebiscitary character. Although formally it was just another election to set up the regional parliament, in real terms it was about getting a parliamentary majority for independence or not.</span></p> <p><span>In the last Parliament elected in 2011, there was a near two-thirds majority in favour of the right to decide, that means in favour of finding a democratic way to know whether the Catalan people want their country to become an independent state or not. Just two parties, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) - a far left, pro-independence party - participated in that election with a clear proposal for independence. These two parties won 24 out of 135 seats of the house. The mandate to the former parliament was not outright independence, but rather the calling of a referendum.</span></p> <p><span>In last September’s election and after all the failed attempts to organise that referendum, two different platforms emerged and participated in the elections with a clear programme for independence. Junts pel Sí – Together for Yes – which is a coalition between my ERC, Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (Artur Mas’ party) and several pro-independence civic platforms, on one side and CUP on the other side. These two lists managed to get 72 representatives or an absolute majority of the seats: 62 for Together for Yes and 10 for CUP.</span></p> <p><span>So the practical result of the last election was that the number of pro-independence MPs went up from 24 to 72 and that </span><span>for the first time ever there is now an absolute majority in the Parliament in favour of independence and with a clear democratic mandate to achieve it</span><span>.</span></p> <p>We will honour that mandate and will make use of that legitimate majority by putting in place, as soon as possible, our roadmap towards independence. This roadmap will precisely define the terms and steps that are currently being negotiated between Together for Yes and CUP. Should there be an agreement, and I am sure there will be, a new government will be formed in the next couple of weeks. </p> <p><span>It is true that we were slightly short of the absolute majority of votes, since “only” 48% of all the votes cast –with a record 77.4% turnout- went to pro-independence lists. The rest, the other 52%, should by no means be counted on the No side. The lists clearly opposing independence got 39% of the votes. The rest went to parties that support Catalonia’s self-determination, albeit not being clearly for independence. So </span><span>the second reading of the results is that, would there have been a referendum, we could have had a real chance to win it.</span></p> <p><span>These results are even more significant when taking into account what the kind of electoral campaign we went through mean. The Spanish version of “Project Fear” was as intense and as humiliating, but not as effective, as the one London used against Scottish independence, partly because Catalonia has some influential media that supports its independence.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Of course the Spanish reaction to the election results was exactly the one expected: blind. Mainstream media and government minimised the victory of pro-independence forces and presented the results as a failure of the Together for Yes coalition, since it did not get an absolute majority alone. Meanwhile, as if we were living in two parallel realities, the mainstream international media underlined the victory of pro-independence parties and the fact that there would be a parliamentary majority pushing forward independence. It was shocking to compare headlines coming from Madrid and elsewhere in the world on the morning after the elections.</span></p> <p><span>Having said all the previous, it is obvious that the Catalan process towards independence is advancing. And this is happening because it is a strong, democratic revolution. It is a grass roots movement with wide support, based on legitimate values and aspirations.</span></p> <p><span>There remain, however, both imaginable and unimaginable difficulties, because we are dealing with a state that denies our right to choose our own future and does not wish to see that Catalonia is a distinct political community with the right to take mature decisions. This state hides behind formalities in order impede the exercising of true democracy.</span></p> <p><span>Over the past few years, whenever </span><span>we talked with the international community, they asked us to come back with a democratic mandate for independence. Well, we now we are back with that mandate.</span><span> While we know that the Spanish state will do nearly everything possible to prevent the mandate from being implemented, we will go ahead and we wont be intimidated. What we have to win, for us and for the future generations of Catalans, is much more than what we might lose.</span></p><p><em>Like <em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em> on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a> and follow us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/francesc-badia-i-dalmases/catalonia-no-fast-track-to-independence">Catalonia: no fast track to independence</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/ryan-griffiths/democratized-secession-in-scotland-and-catalonia">Democratized secession in Scotland and Catalonia </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/daniel-coyne/catalonia-scotland-and-fluid-concept-of-democracy">Catalonia, Scotland and the fluid concept of democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Catalonia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Catalonia Spain Jordi Sole i Ferrando Mon, 26 Oct 2015 16:40:20 +0000 Jordi Sole i Ferrando 97137 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Catalonia: a new country in the making? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/jordi-sole-i-ferrando/catalonia-new-country-in-making <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A few years ago, independence supporters like me were a minority in parliament. Now I feel we are just a small step away from an independent Catalan state.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/15208602841_2535361924_z[1].jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/15208602841_2535361924_z[1].jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Independence supporters. Flickr/Joan Campderrós-i-Canas. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><span>How did we reach the point of being just a step away from an independent Catalan state when only a few years ago independentists were a parliamentary minority?</span></p><p>Firstly, because Catalonia’s strong sense of nationhood is shared by the majority of the population and rooted in a history of having its own language and cultural traditions. This is inextricably linked to the collective willingness of its people to build a common future.</p><p>This sense of nationhood has overcome many hurdles throughout the last three centuries and is very much alive today. Without it any independence movement would be too inorganic.</p><p>Secondly, the Spanish state has never accepted its national diversity or acted as a multi-national state. Perhaps, if the distinctive nations in Spain such as Basque Country or Catalonia could have found fair accommodation within the institutional structure of a democratic Spain then things would be different.</p><p>For instance if their languages, cultures and institutions had been better respected and even promoted; if a bilateral relationship between these countries and the central state had emerged, there may not have been the strong drive towards independence we see today as there would have been no build up of bitterness and grievance over many years.</p><p>Moreover, in recent times there has been a clear attempt to recentralise political power in Madrid. The Spanish Government is systematically eroding the powers of Catalonia by passing laws that clearly clash with devolved powers, or by constantly challenging laws passed by the Catalan Parliament.</p><p>The central government also uses its financial powers to cut the Catalan Government’s room for manoeuvre, and together with certain parties has been playing games with highly sensitive issues such as the language system in Catalan schools, a system that works very well but is constantly attacked by Spanish political actors and from the judiciary.&nbsp;</p><p>Spain’s standards of democracy are quite low compared to other EU countries. One example of this would be the incident regarding the new ‘Statute of Autonomy’ or Catalan basic law. The drafting of a new Statute in 2006 was an invitation to Spain to move towards the path of federal reform. The proposal was everything but a breakaway, but the process ended with what was perceived in Catalonia as a huge humiliation. Despite being passed by the Spanish and Catalan Parliaments and ratified by referendum in Catalonia, the text was severely altered by ten judges in the Constitutional Court – all directly nominated by the main Spanish political parties – four years after it had entered into force.</p><p>Another example of low-quality democracy, and of a political culture that doesn’t accept nor respect political diversity, is the way Spanish institutions chose to deal with Catalonia’s request to organise a legal referendum on its political future – a referendum supported by more than 80 per cent of Catalans and by a clear parliamentary majority in Barcelona.</p><p>Despite all attempts by the Catalan Government and Parliament, Madrid has refused Catalans the opportunity to decide their political future. It is not so much about lack of legal scope in the framework of the Spanish Constitution; rather, there is no political will to recognise Catalonia as a distinct political entity. Spanish nationalism, shared by all relevant political parties, old and new, continues to see Spain as one nation, and a unity that cannot be questioned by even the most democratic procedures.</p><p>Those who think that the current push for ndependence will disappear once the economic crisis in Spain is gone are bitterly mistaken. A large proportion of Catalan society has lost confidence in Spanish institutions forever, mainly because agreements between Catalonia and the Spanish State have ended in nothing or have too often been broken by central government.</p><p>Some observers may think that the prospect of huge political change in Madrid after the upcoming Spanish elections will alter attitudes in terms of the institutional structure of the state and recognition of Catalonia as a national political entity within Spain.</p><p>Well, we feel this is very unlikely because no mainstream Spanish political party – not even the new left, Podemos – is proposing such a deal. Such a proposal, which in many aspects would seem reasonable, would be punished by the Spanish voters. After all that has happened, the Catalan people would never accept any deal with Spain that fails to recognise Catalonia as a nation with the full legal and political capacity to decide its own future.</p><p>To better understand the Catalan Independence movement one should keep in mind that for the Catalans, independence is a project of hope and change. Hope for a fairer, more advanced and more prosperous country, where democracy works better and corruption is eradicated. Change for a country that, given the opportunity to manage its own resources, can become one of the most dynamic in Europe.</p><p>The key to the success of the independence movement is the link between Independence and socio-economic improvement. Independence is not the end of the road but rather the starting point, the best opportunity we will ever have to improve our country.</p><p>The Catalan Independence movement has nothing to do with old-fashioned, introverted, exclusive nationalism. It is not about defending a monolithic identity within the walls of a new border because Catalonia is an extremely diverse country with many cultures, languages and origins, and we are proud of this diversity. </p><p>We want independence because without the tools of our own state, we will never be able to use and develop our potential to the fullest. We have not reached this conclusion lightly but only after decades of trying in vain to change the nature of the Spanish state, in order to better accommodate our country within it.&nbsp;</p><p>The independence movement is a grassroots one; a ‘bottom-up’ project. It originated in the streets and changed the minds of many political actors, not least the very same Catalan Government.</p><p>Civil society played a pivotal role mobilising people around the idea of independence which highlights the real strength of the movement. It is a popular and, ideologically speaking, a very cross-cutting one. Contrary to other independence movements, the goal of independence is now clearly shared and defended by political positions, from left to centre-right, which clearly makes it more complex but simultaneously stronger. The combined efforts of both civic society and the political establishment are amongst its key successes.</p><p>Our movement is largely pro-European. We are and will continue to be European citizens. We want to become the next EU member state, a state born in the ballot boxes, through the free expression of the democratic will of its citizens. EU institutions will not close the door to such a state; that would be like turning their backs to democracy, one of the core values of the European project.</p><p>All we have tried to achieve over the past two years is a democratic mandate from the Catalan people to discover if there is a majority in favour of becoming a state or not. Unfortunately, this has proved impossible as a legal and binding referendum has been consistently refused by the Spanish authorities.</p><p>Last November’s vote – a wide participatory process without any legal basis – was declared unconstitutional, and charges against the Catalan President and two Ministers have been pressed. 2.3 million people voted in the referendum despite all the intimidation and threats made by the Spanish Government. But instead of taking note and try to deal with it, Spain opted to go to the courts.</p><p>The only legal mechanism we are left with is to turn the Catalan parliamentary elections on September 27 into the referendum we could not have. In other words, to transform a normal election into a plebiscitary one.</p><p>A joint pro-independence list will compete in the elections with a clear commitment to independence in its programme. Voting for that list or for any other pro-independence parties would be the equivalent of casting a Yes vote in a normal, Scottish-style referendum.</p><p>Then, if pro-independence MPs make up the majority in the new parliament, we will go ahead and exercise our right to self-determination by proclaiming independence within 18 months. If no such majority occurs, then a good opportunity will have been missed.</p><p>Nevertheless, as was said in the aftermath of the Scottish referendum, our dream of an independent Catalonia shall never die. We will never give up. We will continue trying to build a democratic majority that sees independence as the best solution. We are independentists, but first and above all, we are democrats.</p><p>Nevertheless, we will do our utmost to make use of the best opportunity we have ever had to build our free and modern state.</p><p><em>If you enjoyed this article then please consider liking <em><strong>Can Europe Make it?</strong></em> on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/caneuropemakeit">Facebook</a> and following us on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/oD_Europe">@oD_Europe</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/patrice-de-beer/catalonia-vs-spain-clash-of-two-nationalisms">Catalonia vs Spain, a clash of two nationalisms</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/alessio-colonelli/slow-translation-and-revival-of-catalan-language">Slow translation and the revival of the Catalan language</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Spain Jordi Sole i Ferrando Spotlight on Spain and Catalonian independence Joining the dots on independence movements in Europe Wed, 19 Aug 2015 16:07:54 +0000 Jordi Sole i Ferrando 95364 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Jordi Sole i Ferrando https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/jordi-sole-i-ferrando <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jordi Sole i Ferrando </div> </div> </div> <p>Jordi Sole i Ferrando is the Secretary General of the European Free Alliance and an MP in the Catalan Parliament with the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC). He was re-elected as the mayor of the Catalan town Caldes de Montbui during the recent local elections in Catalonia (May 24th).</p> Jordi Sole i Ferrando Wed, 19 Aug 2015 16:01:44 +0000 Jordi Sole i Ferrando 95365 at https://www.opendemocracy.net