Pro and anti independence forces face off in last TV debate
‘Separation of powers’ in Spain questioned by pro-independence parties
There are two separate and irreconcilable blocs. This is one of the main issues that became evident in the third and last TV debate with candidates of the seven parties set to get seats in the Catalan chamber. In the two-hour show hosted by Catalan public TV3, pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and Together for Catalonia (JxCAT) were represented by Marta Rovira and Jordi Turull, as their top candidates are in prison (Oriol Junqueras) and Belgium (Carles Puigdemont), respectively. The other parties took part with their top contenders for the presidency.
Both ERC and JxCAT, together with the CUP, complained mainly to the Spanish ruling People’s Party (PP) about Spain’s measures to prevent independence from being enforced. Indeed, Rovira even blamed the PP for the incarceration of the leaders of the Catalan state, thus questioning whether there is a “separation of powers” in Spain. This was denied by the People’s Party leader in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol. The pro-independence forces also noted that both the Socialists and Ciutadans supported the measures against Catalan self-rule.
Turull, from Carles Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia candidacy, said that after the election the priority has to be restore the deposed Puigdemont as president and “democratically defeat” the enforcement of Article 155. The Socialist leader, Miquel Iceta, expressed his disagreement by saying that the election of a new president must have “a direct relationship with the vote expressed by citizens” and not with “the restoration of the former president”.
Inés Arrimadas, the leader of Ciutadans, expressed a similar opinion and her wish that the outcome of the December 21 be “a winning alternative”. The desires of the CUP party were quite different. Their leader, Carles Riera, said that the goal after the election has to be “achieving a republican left-wing majority,” meaning a government committed to the new independent Catalan republic.
While the left-right axis had a minor role in the debate, some parties did fight for the leftist vote. Catalonia in Common (CeC), in between both blocs, also took part in the show. Its leader, Xavier Domènech, said that the new elections must serve in order to “unblock” the situation and also to focus on taking forward social policies. “Finding the way out is not to 'restore,'” he claimed, referring to Together for Catalonia Jordi Turull's statement. The leader also made it clear that he will try to evade the potential role of giving the decisive majority to either of the blocs. He would like to promote an inclusive, left-wing executive instead.
The debate was followed by 26.5% Catalan people watching television at that time, which means an average of 683,000 viewers. Around 1.65 million viewers followed the show at some given point. It was the second most followed program in Catalonia, behind the Catalan public TV evening news program.