Town halls in Catalonia to fly Danish flags to avoid ban on pro-independence flags during election campaign
The Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) has requested Catalan mayors to fly Danish flags in municipal buildings as a way of complying with the ban on pro-independence flags during the electoral campaign and as sign of gratitude to this country, which on Tuesday approved a motion in favour of “a democratic and pacific dialogue” between Spain and Catalonia regarding Catalonia self-determination. The initiative comes from Sant Pol de Mar, a coastal town in the Maresme County (about 50 km north of Barcelona). On Thursday, the municipal Painting Museum next to the town hall flew the Danish flag. The AMI has also requested mayors to hang again pro-independence flags this Sunday just after the polling stations close, which will respect the ban from the main Electoral Authority in Spain (Junta Electoral Central) that ordered the removal of all Catalan pro-independence flags from all "public buildings and polling stations" during the electoral campaign and voting period.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) has requested on Friday Catalan mayors to fly Danish flag in the municipal buildings as a way of complying with the ban on pro-independence flags during the electoral campaign and as a sign of gratitude to this country, which on Tuesday approved a motion in favour of “a democratic and pacific dialogue” between Spain and Catalonia regarding Catalonia self-determination. The initiative comes from Sant Pol de Mar, a coastal town in the Maresme County (about 50 km north of Barcelona). On Thursday, the municipal Painting Museum, located next to the town hall, flew the Danish flag. “It is a sign of gratitude to the first country that has recognised, through its Parliament, the self-determination process of Catalonia”, AMI President Josep Maria Vila d’Abadal stated on Friday. The AMI has also requested mayors to hang again pro-independence flags this Sunday from 8 pm, when polling stations will close.
The main Electoral Authority in Spain (Junta Electoral Central) ordered the removal of all Catalan pro-independence flags from all "public buildings and polling stations" in Catalonia during the electoral campaign for the Municipal Elections, which take place on 24 May. The measure caused quite some controversy. Many felt the ban was limiting freedom of expression and was going against decisions adopted by town halls through democratic votes. In addition, others stressed that the Electoral Authority has not banned signs and symbols located in many public spaces throughout Spain honouring Franco and other leading figures of the dictatorship, which is a regime that totally goes against Spain’s current Constitution. Some parties and organisations filed appeals, but the Electoral Authority rejected them and confirmed the ban. Finally, representatives of the Catalan Government asked town halls to honour the ban and withdraw the pro-independence flags for a few days in order to avoid the image of Catalan Police officers being obliged to force mayors to withdraw the pro-independence flags, called ‘estelades’. In the end, the option chosen is to replace the ‘estelades’ with Danish flags.
Danish Parliament requested “democratic dialogue” between Catalonia and Spain
The Folketing, the National Parliament of Denmark, approved on Tuesday a proposal debated a week ago requesting Spain and Catalonia to hold "a peaceful and democratic dialogue" on the self-determination claims and "the question of Catalonia's independence". The AMI has pointed out through a statement that the motion was approved with the support of 6 of the 8 parliamentary groups and the abstention of the other two, resulting in 64 votes in favour, 41 abstentions and 0 votes against. It also pointed out that “Danish Parliament takes into account the explanation of the Spanish Government about legal, historical, political and international aspects connected to the situation in Catalonia and recognises that Catalonia’s independence is a question of peaceful and democratic dialogue between Catalonia and the Spanish Government in Madrid”. According to the AMI, “this means recognition of Catalonia as a political subject”.
The proposal is the answer that the Danish Foreign Affairs Minister, Martin Lidegaard, from the Danish Social Liberal Party, gave to a question filed by an MP from the Red-Green Alliance, Nikolaj Villumsen. Villumsen also said that he hopes that the European Union will take part in this debate and will support a democratic dialogue and a pacific solution. In this vein, he also said that he hopes “this debate to be the beginning” and that other European parliaments “will go into the debate” and will copy the Danish Parliament and debate the situation in Catalonia.
The spokesperson for the civil society association Catalan National Assembly (ANC) in Denmark, Carlos Vilaró, said they are “really happy to have the support of the majority of the Parliament” and that the agreement means “the recognition of Catalonia as an equal entity as Spain”. ANC was the organisation who encouraged asking the question in the Parliament.
After hearing of the vote, the Catalan Government's Spokesperson and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, who is also in charge of External Relations, sent on Tuesday a direct message to the Spanish Foreign Affairs, José Manuel García-Margallo: “no votes against it, Mr Margallo”. He also said that he has information about pressure applied by the Spanish Government to the Danish Parliament to not vote on the issue, and said that such pressure “is not new” and “is strange behaviour in a democratic context”.