Pro-independence JxCat looking to make every vote count
Carles Puigdemont's party vows "no blank checks" as it goes into November election focusing on imprisoned Catalan leaders
'Not one vote backwards' is the campaign slogan of Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia, or JxCat) in the run-up to the Spanish general election on November 10, and every vote will count for the pro-independence party, if recent polls are correct.
The CIS public research institute recently published its latest poll on the likely outcome of the general election, suggesting that the number of seats that JxCat has in the Spanish congress could drop from its current seven to between four and six.
While that is unwelcome news for the party of former Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, if the predictions come true and ERC gains three seats and CUP enters the chamber with two seats, the pro-independence bloc in Congress would increase overall.
Yet, there seems little appetite for a common independence front in congress, as JxCat's proposal in a recent TV debate to form "a new voice in congress, with all the accents of the independence camp" was either swiftly rebuffed or ignored by the other parties.
Leading player in independence camp
Nevertheless, JxCat is one of the main players in Catalonia's pro-independence movement and is the party calling for secession from Spain with the most seats in parliament, as well as sharing power in the Catalan government with the ERC party.
While JxCat only registered as a political party in July 2018, it is an offshoot of what was once Convergència, the party founded in 1973 by Jordi Pujol, who spent 23 consecutive years in power in Catalonia under the CiU coalition, embroiled in several corruption scandals.
After a stint in opposition, CiU, now under Artur Mas, returned to power in 2010. Mas served as president until 2016, when he handed over to Puigdemont, who set up the JxCat electoral alliance with Convergència's successor, the Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català (PDeCAT).
Meanwhile, four former JxCat MPs are also among the nine Catalan independence leaders sentenced in mid-October to hefty jail terms by Spain's Supreme Court for their role in the failed unilateral independence bid in 2017.
Amnesty and self-determination
In fact, Jordi Sànchez, Josep Rull, Jordi Turull, and Quim Forn all feature heavily in JxCat's campaign for the November election, with the call for an amnesty for the prisoners along with self-determination being two major demands in the party's manifesto.
JxCat has also presented its election campaign in terms of the ongoing condemnation against the prison sentences, and says the protests against the Supreme Court's ruling will condition how it goes about carrying out campaign acts.
An example was the official launch of its election campaign on November 1, which took place outside the Lledoners prison, where the four party members are being held. It will also involve an event in Brussels alongside exiled party leader, Puigdemont.
How JxCat reacts to acting Spanish president Pedro Sánchez's need for support in Congress to form a government remains to be seen, but the party's main candidate, Laura Borràs, recently warned that "we will not gift any votes, we will not provide any blank checks."