For social and political change in Catalonia

Citizen Correspondent

By Sara Vilà Galan.

Our political stream combines different leftist parties, such as ICV, EUiA, Podem i Equo and many independents who come from a background of social struggle throughout Catalonia. Our coalition is born of the desire to provide a response to the social and national emergency which we are experiencing; to change from the grass roots the social and economic model that has brought us to this point.

We are aware of the need to build a better Catalonia, with social and ecological fairness, and transparent and radically democratic institutions, with equality between people, and freedom to decide their relationship with the outside world. The spotlight must thus move back to the public.

We live in hard times, marked by a growing inequality between a privileged minority, which has used the crisis to enrich itself (currently those with more than 30 million euros have doubled in number, compared with 2007) and a huge majority of people who are seeing their lives as increasingly more precarious, and their voice ignored.

This reality is no accident: it is the result of the austerity policies implemented by the Catalan, and Spanish governments and, of course, the Troika (IMF, ECB and European Commission). All this was happening while we have discovered a great number of corruption cases which especially involved parties like PP and CiU.

As if that were not enough, the State has sought to stifle the legitimate democratic aspirations of Catalonia, attacking our self-government, our culture and our language.

However, the public are not standing idly by, nor are they resigned. There have been many people and social movements that have risen up in favour of their social and national rights. They have organised themselves in the streets, calling demonstrations, strikes and seeking legislative initiatives in defence of the wealth of all, in vindication of the common good: public services, the right to housing and a decent job; they have also mobilised before the institutions. Thus the municipal elections have shown that the aspirations to change government are majority one and that changing the status quo is possible.

The Constitutional Court ruling of 2010, breaking apart the Statute endorsed by the Catalonian people in 2006, represented an irreparable rift between Catalonia and the Spanish State. It also led to a crisis in the territorial model laid down in the constitution of 1978. It was from that judgment onwards that social mobilization in favour of the right to decide, and also of independence, increased significantly in the past Dyads, also in the non-binding plebiscite held on 9 November, 2014. The Catalan process has made clear the demise of the regional model; it has denounced recentralising policies, and raised the need to open up a constituent process not only in Catalonia but also in Spain, since Catalonia does not live isolated from the reality of the rest of Europe.

When approximately 2 million Catalans out of 7.5 million question the institutional framework, we need to establish legal mechanisms to find out what the people in this country really want. Law is not something immutable and must adapt to the democratic will and not vice versa. If there is political will, it will be possible to agree on holding a binding referendum or consultation with guarantees, to ascertain the desire of the people of Catalonia and spur, if possible, the necessary legal changes.

The consultation or referendum, from our point of view, does not accept substitutes like “plebiscitary election” or the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, made with a majority of seats with an electoral law that weighs up the results of parties with the best results and penalises minority parties. We cannot consider the referendum path to be exhausted, even less so when for the first time there are real possibilities of changing the correlation of forces within the State which are favourable to the right to decide for the Catalan people. Nor can we reduce the debate down to independence or the status quo, as Catalan society is more pluralistic and diverse than what is expressed by this twofold option and the political situation is not simply a static snapshot and can change both at State level and in Catalonia, should the public decide so.

The right of the people of Catalonia to decide must necessarily have to undergo serious discussion; a process of deliberation by the public on the plurality of options but also on what is involved and what is not in an independent Catalonia. There are many temptations in the electoral campaign to disguise reality, whether this be the discourse of fear by State government, or speeches on the idyllic dream of an independent Catalonia. Mixing elections to the parliament of Catalonia with a plebiscite means adulterating speeches to win the elections, which does not allow a real deliberative process for Catalans.

The processes of self-determination in Quebec and Scotland should be a mirror for the Catalan process and a role model for the Spanish State, govern whoever governs. Scotland did not have the powers to call for a referendum but the British and Scottish governments reached an agreement to hold that referendum in 2014, with a rigorous deliberative process where all options could be defended on an equal footing.

The elections of 27 September should be constituent elections, as they must be fundamental in promoting political and social change in Catalonia; starting a constituent process not subordinated to the state where we can work from the bottom up on a new social, economic, ecological and political model. These elections have to be the elections that provide us with sufficient political majorities to be able to implement socially just policies, contrary to restricting rights and to privatizations; implacable with the relentless fight against corruption and bad practice in political institutions. These elections must therefore be the start of the break with the regime of 1978, with a spirit of cooperation and brotherhood with all peoples, including the Spanish.



Sara Vilà Galan is a social activist and a ICV-EUiA member of the Catalonian Parliament. She has a degree in philosophy from the Universitat de Barcelona and specialises in migration and human movements. 


This is a translation of the original article in Spanish that can be found here.



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