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A Plural Catalonia Will Work for its Right to Vote

I am writing this article in order to respond to my colleague Lorenzo G-A Llamas’ article, Secessionism in Times of Crisis: The Case of Spain. We mostly agree about the causes of Catalonia’s will to be independent but I totally disagree with his way of interpreting the last results of the Catalan elections. Llamas argues that “they (Catalans) want solutions, not more problems. They want an economy, that does not mean a new country.” I have an opposite vision of what they (or we) want.

As Llamas explains, Catalonia’s Government advanced the Parliamentary elections because of the last Diada’s manifestation (1.5 million people claiming for the freedom of the region) and its President, Artur Mas, asked for a large majority for his right-wing party (CiU). Mas wanted a strong government to lead the independence, and to demonstrate to Spain that Catalans want the right to vote in a  referendum for it (as I explained in my last article Catalans want to vote!).

So, the electoral campaign was focused on three things: independence (or not), right to vote (or not) and the social cutbacks.

The first lesson of the elections results (November 25th) is that Mas has failed in his sovereign aspirations because his party lost 12 of the 62 seats, so it is far from the majority (68 seats), as the Spanish media stated the day later. This is true, but this lecture is not fair because it does not represent what the Catalans voted for. The global results (almost 70% of participation) of the new Catalan Parliament show a majority of seats for pro-referendum parties (87 of 135) and that more than 50% of seats are for pro-independence parties (74 of 135)

Spain has a proportional electoral system, so it allows for the representation of a number of parties.  This is normally what happens in the Catalan Parliament which, nowadays, has seven different parties. And that is what Catalans voted for (instead of the majority that Mas wanted):

1- A plural representation of parties (87 seats) that agree with making a referendum –right-wing (CiU, 50 seats), left-wing (ERC, with 21 seats is the second party in the Parliament, so the opposition), ecologist (ICV-EUiA, 13) and a left-wing assembly party (CUP, 3) –

2- A plural representation too to lead the independence (74 seats), represented by CiU (the Govern), ERC (the opposition) and CUP.

In terms of votes; 2,140,314 Catalans voted for some of the pro-referendum parties and 1,334,149 voted against it (PSC –20 seats–, PP –19 seats– and C’s – 9 seats–).

It is true that CiU will have a lot of problems governing, as well as putting in place the social cutbacks. Its last economic partner was the right-wing Spanish party (PP, with 19 seats), however PP has been totally opposed to the referendum and, of course, to the independence. So, CiU has said that they won’t agree to a pact with them again. But, something is clear: the Government of Catalonia and the official opposition agreed to work together for the referendum and for the independence of the region.

So, here I relay a personal message to the Spanish Government: Catalans are not divided; they are plural and, at least, a large majority of them want the right to vote.

Will Spain see the reality?

–  Eulàlia Mata

Article of Lorenzo G-A Llamas:

http://thepoliticalbouillon.com/en/secessionism-in-times-of-crisis-the-case-of-spain/

Video (in English) with the explanations of the Catalan Election results by Vilaweb:

http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4059424/20121127/video-mapping-the-catalan-election-results-pro-referendum-parties-win.html

(Featured photo: AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works David Tubau, Creative Commons, Flickr)

About Eulalia Mata

Student of Communication at Concordia University. Eulàlia is an exchange student from Barcelona (Spain, or more precisely – the Catalonian region). She studies journalism in her home university (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). Eulalia joined the Political Bouillon because she is really interested in politics, especially, Spanish politics. Journalist in progress, sorry for any inconvenience caused!

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5 comments

  1. Love the exchange! Keep it going!

  2. The catalans can do whatever they want as long as it does NOT go against the Spanish Constitution. And that is where the problems start. First of all, if Cataluña were to vote for its independence that would mean that according to the Spanish Constitution, Cataluña would have to be considered as a colony. In such case, they would have a discriminate statute, meaning that Cataluña would have different laws from the rest of Spain. That discriminate statute would then give them the self-determination right. However, it’s clear that is this is not the case. Cataluña is a region in Spain that has some cultural and linguistic differences from other parts of Spain. What country in the world does not have differences among their regions, provinces or states? The laws in Cataluña are the same as in any other region in Spain. Therefore, they have no right to call a referendum for its independence because they are the same as the rest of Spain. It goes against the Spanish Constitution! And lets not even mention the leader of that movement who tells the people that he will take them out of the UE and then back into the UE. Like if he could do whatever he wanted and like if the UE would just allow him to do such things.

  3. I think you are really missing the point. Your dispute of Llamas’ article is unfounded and completely tangential to the heart of the matter. Llamas’ article was an exploration of all the different issues that intersect with the Catalan grievances: namely the economic woes, the ailing Spanish governance, and the meanings of Spanish unity in historical perspective. He mainly argues that the Catalan call for a referendum is merely symptomatic of the various stresses the Spanish people have undergone – which in my view is a sensible argument you have failed to truly grasp.

    By cursorily dismissing his thesis you have engaged in a “straw man” misrepresentation of Llamas’ argument in order to further your own views about the Catalan results. That Catalans were pro-independent or not was not challenged by Llamas – instead his piece was a reflection on the causes and the implications of what the vote meant, and how that was revelatory of the ills of Spanish political and economic governance. He is looking at calls for secessionism in the special context of a time of crisis, as his title indicates. His argument that calls for secessionism have been exacerbated because of crises is a compelling one, and one that has been made by many scholars in the academic field as well as journalists and analysis alike.

    Thus, your retranscription of the election results with all the number of seats, and description of the role of a proportional representation electoral system does nothing to further your challenge of Llamas’ interpretation of the issue. Instead it is peripheral and touches on another debate.

  4. Aside from the Constitutional arguments presented by Llop, which despite being factual, they certainly can not be relied on exclusively as the role argument to justify Spanish statehood. Democracy is democracy.

    However, the statistical transcript offering the results that Mata presents, argues in the favor of my the same gust of winds i defended. I feel your arguments failed to capture the nature of mine. First of all, the difference between “plural” and divisioned, is very slim, so you have to be careful when you argue that the disparities amongst the electoral results reflect a unity. If only 3 months after Mas disembarked on his nationalistic plan, he was severely punished by the electorate, shows that his nationalist scheme while relevant, certainly is not the only determinant of the electorate’s intentions: he los 12 of the 62 seats Mas’ party enjoyed. His nationalistic wave, is not enough – and the evolution of the polls (who a month before offered Mas much more than he ended up obtaining) shows how there was discontent of his management.

    Furthermore, and a VERY important note that has to be raised, is that people willing to have a referendum, do not explicitly mean they want independence. It is widely known that CiU encompassed a variety of electorate; the fact they are sovereignist does not define a independetist. Do not catch me wrong, if I was Catalonian I would be sovereignist, to improve efficiency of governance in Spain, and Catalonia specifically. Now, to say that pro-referendum groups are exclusively independentist is a fault to veracity. The polls for independence are blurry – there is no clear indicator that supports the statements of Mata. A sovereignist inclination? Yes. Its only natural, now translating that into independence, and the process is going to entail to aquire it, is more speculation and emotional tirade than it is factual.

    Spain is in crisis, during crisis nationalistic movements find a good umbrella to justify better futures, mostly founded by emotional (exagerated) tirades. The results reflect a sovereign tendency yes, now to step from Spain to Independence, is rather long stride, and there is much room in between for other solutions. Its not the status quo vs an independent future. Dont ignore rearrangements in governance, and shift in our political foundations. The issue is not black or white – and attempting to expose it as so – is offering a short-sighted, superficial analysis.

  5. Diversity of opinions, good! I will try to answer some of your arguments…
    1. The polls didn’t reflect the reality because the participation wasn’t expected that high. 70% of participation is a lot and the people who made the polls and the surveys didn’t expect that, so the final results were totally different. They have already apologized for that ajajaj
    2. I don’t say that Catalonia is a unity, I am saying that Catalans have voted for a diversity of parties which, at the end, they all want the same objective: the right to vote in referendum. And it is true that Mas’ nationalistic plan has failed, but “Catalonia is not CiU” (ICV used this as its slogan)
    3. I am going to put some examples of what I understand of countries that are politically divided: USA (Democrats vs Republicans), Spain (PP vs PSOE)… When you have a Parliament with seven different parties: that is more plural than the other examples
    4. In this elections three parties have said that they are going to work for the independence: CiU, ERC and CUP. Maybe not all their voters are pro-independence, but, in my opinion, they have a 90% of their voters who agree in this aspect
    5. It is probably true that the Financial crisis has increased the number of Catalans that want the independence, but I don’t think it is the main reason. The cutbacks in the new Catalan Statute of Autonomy were not related with the financial crisis… If you (Llanas) are talking about a Political crisis, we totally agree. Spanish politicians have been unable to understand what Catalonia was asking for and now some Catalans have said: enough!.
    6. PGLlop, the Constituion forbids to vote, that is the main problem! Moreover, the Constitution also forbids changing the Linguistic Immersion related with teaching in Catalan and that is exactly what the Spanish Educational Minister, José Ignacio Wert, has already done… Is it illegal that 7M of Catalans vote but it is fair that A Minister changes the Constitution????

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