Friday, September 27, 2013

Catalans Want to Vote

The Catalan Parliament is working to provide its citizens with a referendum they can vote on in 2014 to say Yes or No to the question of whether Catalunya should be an independent state.  As usual, the PP party of Catalunya is opposed to a referendum because, it says, it is illegal.  But the PP is a small, minority party in Catalunya and probably yet another reason why many Catalans don't want to be part of Spain where the PP party holds an absolute majority in the Spanish Parliament.  The rest seem to think that voting is what people do in a democracy. 

There are questions within the Parliament about whether there shouldn't be more than one question on the future referendum.  But I think the public wants it to be the simple question or whether or not Catalunya should remain part of Spain or gain its independence.  That is what the two huge grassroots demonstrations -- one with 1.5 million people in 2012 and the other recently with 1.6 million in the Via Catalana human chain -- were about.

It seems to me that if Catalans voted on such a referendum and the No vote won, then that would be the time to consider other options with the aim of changing the system to give Catalunya more autonomy within the framework of the Spanish state.  Oh, excuse me; Spain is a Kingdom.  Did you know that?  The problem with other options, of course, is that the Spanish Parliament would have to approved any of those, and as witnessed during the last few years with every proposal brought from the Catalan Parliament to the Spanish government, the response has always been No.  Not only No, but almost every week there is a motion from Madrid to increaseinly curtail the autonomy that Catalunya enjoys.  Thus, there is little reason to think it would suddenly change it's course.

The President of the Generalitat (President of Catalunya, something like a governor of one of the United States), Artur Mas, is the head of the CiU party, a conservative Catalan party.  In spite of the fact that neither he nor his party began this movement for independence, he (and most of his party) has responded to what he sees as the will of the people.  He has become the political leader that is working from all ends to meet the objective of a referendum and then, following the expected outcome, lead the country to a declaration of independence. 

Some on the left don't trust him because his party is right wing, and because Mas and CiU are said to only have jumped on the bandwagon once they saw the lay of the land.  But I think that we are not here to give points to who started this movement.  And it is good enough if a political leader can see what the people want and respond appropriately, even if it wasn't his idea.  In fact, I think someone like that deserves some credit.  We all know who started this movement -- Carme Forcadell -- and she will be long remembered in Catalan history.  But so will Artur Mas because with his intelligence, his diplomatic skills, and his willingness to partner up with Oriol Junkeras of the Esquerra Republicana -- the left wing party at the other end of the spectrum from that of Artur Mas -- he will be the one to make it happen.

But then, only time will tell and each day brings a little bit of news.  This is a very exciting time to be living here.

Photo credit: my pal, Trini Gonzalez

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