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December 21 elections ‘round two’ for independence referendum, says Carles Puigdemont

Major parties running in December 21 election hold events just days before campaign officially kicks off

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02 December 2017 06:16 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

With just a few days until the electoral campaigns begin, parties are already giving official pre-campaign statements. This article provides a basic overview of what each major party said, in the last few days before the campaigns begin. 

Carles Puigdemont addresses a group of people from a screen in a town in the north of Catalonia (by Gerard Vilà)

Head of the Together for Catalonia ticket, Carles Puigdemont, has stated that the December 21 elections should be “round two” for the October 1 independence referendum. The Catalan president, deposed by the Spanish government, gave a speech via video from Brussels, Belgium, at a presentation ceremony for the election campaign in the northern Catalan town where he lived. The candidate also stated that the elections should serve “to guarantee the freedom of all citizens” as well as to “ratify the dignity of those who show up to defend the ballot boxes.” Inasmuch, Puigdemont has appealed to “the spirit” of referendum day, in order to “bend the State’s authoritarianism.” He also charged against Rajoy’s executive, and noted that the future of a people “cannot be decided in court.”

Ximo Puig and leader of Catalan Socialist party Miquel Iceta speak on camera on Dceember 2 2017 (by Júlia Pérez)

Pre-emptive incarceration for pro-independence leaders is “disproportionate,” states PSC leader

Meanwhile, the head of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), Miquel Iceta, said in a statement that he is hopeful the imprisoned pro-independence leaders currently being preemptively held without bail will be released on Monday. Indeed, deposed Catalan government ministers, as well as grassroots civil society leaders, were sent to prison without bail as a pre-emptive measure, pending trial for various charges ranging from sedition to rebellion, for their roles in Catalonia’s push for independence. Their two cases were recently transferred from the Spanish National Court to its Supreme Court, the latter of which has taken less dramatic measures against similar cases; the entity may make a decision as early as Monday. Indeed, Iceta stated that he believes the incarceration of the leaders to be “disproportionate,” and, while respecting the judiciary’s decisions, he sees it as more “logical” to let the accused out on bond after paying bail. The PSC has positioned itself as against Catalonia’s push for independence and for the application of Article 155. 

  • “The elections should serve to guarantee the freedom of all citizens,”

    Carles Puigdmeont· candidate for Together for Catalonia  

Candidates for the ERC Republican left party, including Marta Rovira and Carme Forcadell, holding signs with the names of the members of the candidacy who are currently in prison on November 28 2017 (by Júlia Pérez)

Many candidates for ERC remain in prison

Indeed, the deposed vice president of the Catalan government, Oriol Junqueras, remains behind bars. He’s leading the ticket for the Esquerra Republicana (ERC), but he is not the only candidate for the party who is currently in custody. The list includes Dolors Bassa, Raül Romeva, and Carles Mundó, held in separate prisons in the Madrid region, after being incarcerated without bail while awaiting trial for rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds (among others), for their role in the push for independence. Their case was recently moved from the Spanish National Court to the Supreme Court; the judge presiding over their case in the latter entity, Pablo Llanera, summoned them back in order to revisit their pre-emptive imprisonment, but the decision was pushed back until Monday. President of Parliament Carme Forcadell, running as number 3 for ERC, is also accused of the same crimes as the government officials. Forcadell, in fact, had her case overseen by the Supreme Court judge. She is out on bond, after having paid a bail of €150,000, and spent a night in prison. Meanwhile, ministers Meritxell Serret and Toni Comín, also on the ERC ticket, remain in Brussels along with Carles Puigdemont, awaiting a decision on their extradition. It is still uncertain whether the ministers to will be able to return to Catalonia from incarceration and exile in order to campaign for the election.

Xavier Domènech, candidate for Catalonia in Common-Podem (CatECP) speaks in a park on December 2 2017 (by Jordi Bataller)

“We have to defeat those who brought us here on the 21 of December,” says Catalonia in Common-Podem leader

The candidate for the Catalonia in Common-Podem ticket, Xavier Domènech, has expressed this Saturday that the December 21 elections must be used to bring the “politics of change” of the Barcelona Town Hall to the Catalan government. The party has been very explicit about its lack of ties to either pro-independence or unionist forces, and as Ada Colau’s own party, it has positioned itself as neither in favor of Article 155 nor of a unilateral declaration of independence. In a pre-campaign event with the Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau. “We can’t waste time in recovering our self-government and to make it more social,” he warned, adding that “Those who got us here, we have to defeat them on the 21 of December. 

The president of Ciutadans (Cs) Albert Rivera and the leader for Cs in Catalonia, Inès Arrimadas, at a pre-campaign event on December 2 2017 (by Cs) 

‘We are the only ones who can defeat ERC,’ claims leader of Cs in Catalonia

The president of unionist party Ciutadans (Cs), Albert Rivera, accused the PSC of being a “bad copy of the nationalists,” comparing their electoral program to that of former Catalan president Artur Mas, but “four years later.” Specifically, Rivera was referring to Miquel Iceta and PSC’s recent proposal to the Spanish government to remodel its tax system into a federal one, which would allow Catalonia to collect all its own taxes. The motion was rejected hours after it was brought up, by Spanish president Mariano Rajoy. In his attack to the PSC, Rivera also appealed to “disappointed” socialist voters that, he said, over the years have just given their votes to the “separatists.” The head of Cs also claimed that although the Socialist Party and the People’s Party do not want his own party to govern Catalonia, their voters “won’t have any other choice” than to support Cs. Rivera explained that this is because a Ciutadans-run government would still be preferable to them than one with pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) or PDeCAT parties. “We are the only ones who can defeat ERC in the elections,” he stated.

Spanish president Mariano Rajoy, head of PPC Xavier Garcia Albiol and Fernando Martínez Maíllo during PP's pre-campaign event in Mataró on December 2 2017 (by Àlex Recolons)

‘One must choose their enemies carefully,’ warns Spanish president Mariano Rajoy 

The Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, of the People’s Party (PP) enumerated all the benefits of the application of Article 155, during an event for the People’s Party in Catalonia (PPC), accompanied by its leader Xavier Garcia Albiol. Rajoy further stated that the seizing of Catalonia’s self-rule had helped to re-establish a certain normality and that the elections on December 21 are a good opportunity to “heal wounds and begin to rebuild what was broken.” “The pro-independence movement doesn’t give anything more than ‘yes,’ and windows need to be opened to let the air flow.” The Spanish president also added that the independence roadmap has “done much harm,” to Catalonia’s economy and that only a government led by the PP will contribute “stability and moderation” to assure economic recovery. Rajoy also attacked the pro-independence parties who constructed “a great lie,” when they assured, for example, the push for independence would receive the support of Europe. He also warned against attacking the leaders of the EU because, according to him, “one must choose their enemies carefully.”

The number 2 on the Barcelona candidacy for the CUP party, Maria Sirvent, on December 2 2017 (by Núria Julià)

Independent Catalan republic “a tool for social transformation and emancipation,” says Barcelona CUP candidate

Far-left pro-independence CUP also approved, today, an electoral program for the 21 December elections that “is mainly based on the implementation of the (independent Catalan) republic.” The decision was taken under unusual circumstances, with its headquarters surrounded by both far-right unionist protesters and counter-protests, even a police force to ensure the peace was kept. The second on the list for the CUP’s candidacy for Barcelona, Maria Sirvent, explained that with their decision, the party is defending a “majority will for change, which was expressed during the October 1 referendum.” The republic, according to the CUP representative, will be a “tool for social transformation and emancipation,” and therefore they insist on setting the compromise to make the republic “effective” as a common point with other coalitions. While The second candidate for Barcelona did not specify what negotiations are underway with other parties. Other goals that the CUP is also attempting to reach are “the freeing of political prisoners,” the “effective” control of the territory, and a large agreement for a “constituent process.”

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  • Carles Puigdemont in Brussels on November 29 2017 (by Blanca Blay)