Spain’s Rajoy loses Catalan elections


This 22 December 2017 video from Brussels, Belgium says about itself:

’A slap in the face’ for Madrid: Puigdemont hails Catalonia election win

Catalan pro-independence parties have held their majority in snap regional elections, dealing a severe blow to the Spanish government, which had called the poll in the hope of heading off the secessionist push. Together for Catalonia – the party led by the region’s deposed president, Carles Puigdemont – took 34 seats, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) 32 and the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy four. Making his victory speech, a jubilant Puigdemont said the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, had been ‘sunk’ in Catalonia.

By Alex Lantier and Alejandro López:

Catalan nationalists win narrow majority in crisis elections

22 December 2017

Late last night, Catalan nationalist parties were set to win a narrow majority of 70 seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament, in special elections the Spanish government called amid the crisis unleashed by the October 1 Catalan independence referendum.

Together for Catalonia (JxCat) had won 34 seats, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) 32, and the Candidatures of Popular Unity (CUP) 4 seats. In the anti-separatist camp, the Citizens party won 36 seats, the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC) 17, and the Popular Party (PP) [the right-wingers of Rajoy‘s minority government in Spain] 3. Catalonia en Comú (CeC)—the Catalan branch of the Podemos party, which claimed to be neutral between Spanish and Catalan nationalism—won 8 seats. Voter turnout was high, at 82 percent.

This result puts paid to hopes in the Spanish ruling elite that elections would allow them to rapidly resolve the standoff between the Spanish and Catalan regional governments. Instead, the conflict between Madrid and Barcelona is set to continue and escalate, amid deep political uncertainty.

The PP government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the election as part of its repressive strategy in Catalonia, which is backed by the European Union (EU). On October 1, backed by Citizens and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), it organized a brutal crackdown on peaceful voters in the independence referendum organized by the Catalan separatist parties. It then invoked Article 155 of the Spanish constitution to suspend the Catalan government and called yesterday’s elections in the hope of obtaining a pro-PP majority.

In the event, however, Rajoy’s strategy backfired. Despite the PP’s threats and its jailing of many Catalan nationalist politicians, the Catalan nationalists retained their majority. The PP, traditionally weak in Catalonia, suffered a humiliating collapse of its vote.

Already last night, recriminations were appearing in the pro-PP press. In an article in the right-wing newspaper ABC titled “Elections for this?” columnist Curri Valenzuela declared, “Mariano Rajoy made a mistake in calling elections as quickly as possible.”

The precise outcome in the Catalan parliament remains unclear. Eight of the 70 Catalan nationalist deputies to be elected cannot physically go to the parliament. Five have fled abroad to avoid Spanish arrest warrants (deposed Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí, Toni Comín, Lluís Puig and Meritxell Serret); three (deposed regional vice-premier Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sanchez, and Joaquin Forn) have been jailed. This would leave the Catalan nationalists six votes short of the necessary 68-vote majority.

These individuals could give up their seats to lower-ranking JxCat or ERC members to obtain the necessary parliament majority. However, Puigdemont might also seek to return to Catalonia and demand his reinstatement, citing the victory of the Catalan nationalist forces, among which his party was the top vote getter.

The PP’s initial response was to signal that it is preparing stepped-up repression. Yesterday, Rajoy repeated his threats to again invoke Article 155 and suspend the Catalan government if it did not obey Madrid, declaring, “Obey the law, or else you already know what will happen.”

The Guardia Civil announced new accusations before the Supreme Court against more Catalan nationalists, including Marta Rovira (the leader of the ERC while Junqueras is in jail) and CUP spokeswoman Anna Gabriel. They also laid the grounds for new accusations against more Catalan nationalists, by denouncing a peaceful protest called on the Diada national day as an act of treason.

The Guardia Civil alleged that the protests promoted “a dangerous germ of a sense of rejection or even hatred of the Spanish state and the institutions supporting it. … In these citizens’ protests, there were calls for implementing a permanent strategy of deliberately planned disobedience.”

During the election campaign, PP officials dispensed with the pretense that these are independent investigations by the judicial branch of government. In fact, the PP is using it to settle accounts with its opponents, as PP Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaría told a rally in Girona: “Who has left ERC and the PDECat leaderless after decapitating both parties? Mariano Rajoy and the PP. Who put an end to the law being flouted? Mariano Rajoy and the PP. … So, who deserves the votes to continue liquidating separatism? Mariano Rajoy and the PP.”

Voters delivered a rebuke not only to the PP, however, but also to the coalition of Catalan nationalist parties. The results of the Catalan elections, while humiliating for the PP, did not signify majority support for the Catalan nationalists’ reactionary program of building an independent capitalist Catalan Republic oriented to the EU and hostile to Spain—a program which traditionally faces broad opposition among urban workers in Catalonia.

The Catalan nationalists failed to win a majority of the popular vote, or to substantially increase their vote. The Citizens party received the most votes (25.36 percent), followed by JxCat at 21.68 percent and the ERC at 21.4 percent. Together with the CUP’s 4.45 percent, this signifies that the Catalan separatist parties collectively obtained only 47.53 percent of the vote.

They obtained a majority in the regional parliament, however, as an unintended consequence of the gerrymandering of electoral districts by the Spanish fascist regime during the Transition to parliamentary democracy in the late 1970s. This gerrymandering favored rural districts over urban ones that, at that time, voted for social-democratic or Communist Party candidates. Since then, however, this has turned into an advantage for the Catalan nationalists, whose electoral support is now concentrated in rural areas.

Separatist forces only won 44 and 49.5 percent of the votes in Catalonia’s two main urban districts, Barcelona and Tarragona. However, they won 63.7 percent in Girona and 64.2 percent in Lleída.

… The traditionally anti-separatist “red belt” around Barcelona—the working-class suburbs that historically voted for the social democrats or the Communist Party in the period immediately after the Transition—voted not for the PSC or Podemos, but for the Citizens party. Citizens, a right-wing party with close ties to the PP, nevertheless ran a campaign criticizing the PP and proclaiming that it wanted a more rational and less aggressive strategy to resolve the crisis.

See also here.

Catalonia’s hopes for peace stall as further wave of arrests feared. Tensions continue to rise as Catalans elect 19 jailed, exiled or bailed politicians, and separatists claim the judiciary is acting on Madrid’s orders: here.

In the new year, supporters of independence need to build a mass movement in Catalonia and solidarity across Europe: here.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has made clear that his response to the marginal victory of the Catalan nationalist bloc (70 seats in the 135-seat parliament) is to step up his government’s anti-democratic attacks: here.

Spain admits spending £77m on extra police to quash Catalan independence movement: here.

Saturday, March 24, 2018: Spain: 13 Catalan separatist politicians charged by Supreme Court judge over secession attempt: here.

11 thoughts on “Spain’s Rajoy loses Catalan elections

  1. Wednesday, 27 December 2017

    PUIGDEMONT ASKS TO BE ALLOWED TO RETURN HOME

    TOGETHER for Catalonia (JxTCat) leader, Carles Puigdemont, has called on Spain’s government to allow him to return home in time for the opening session of the Catalan parliament so that he can become the region’s next president.

    ‘I want to come back to Catalonia as soon as possible. It would be good news, not only for my family, obviously, and not only for Catalonia, but also for Spain. It would be very good news for Spain and Spanish democracy, to recognise and restore the democratic legality which the Spanish government put on hold.

    ‘I am still, and have not stopped being, the president of the regional government,’ Puigdemont said in an interview on Saturday. Asked if he would be back in time for the opening session which has to take place at the latest on 23 January, he said ‘It would be natural. If I am not allowed to be sworn in as president, it would be a major abnormality for the Spanish democratic system. I am the president of the regional government and I will remain the president if the Spanish state respects the results of the vote.’

    Meanwhile, Spain’s supreme court judge Pablo Llarena plans to issue writs against a further 11 people linked with the deposed Catalan government for their part in organising October’s referendum and fomenting secessionism. They include Marta Rovira, acting leader of Esquerra Repúblicana (Republican Left) – its leader, Oriol Junqueras, is in prison – Anna Gabriel and Mireia Boyá of the anti-capitalist CUP party, and Josep Lluís Trapero, former head of the Mossos d’Esquadra police force, who was hailed as a hero for his handling of August’s terrorist attacks.

    Even the name of Pep Guardiola, former Barcelona football club coach and now at Manchester City, has appeared in a police report that forms part of the investigation into events leading up to the unilateral declaration of independence on 27 October.

    The report describes the huge but peaceful demonstrations organised by Catalan grassroots organisations as ‘sowing the seeds of hate towards the Spanish state’. At one such gathering, on 11 June, Guardiola read out a manifesto for independence. The report has been passed on to Llarena, who is in charge of the investigation.

    Commenting on the legal moves last week, the deposed Puigdemont said in Brussels: ‘I think it’s clear that in Spain there are a number of state prosecutors, judges and state attorneys who are under orders from politicians. The judges are political appointments. This is one of the weaknesses of the Spanish judicial system.’

    A few days before last Thursday’s election, Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, told a meeting of the Popular Party faithful in Girona: ‘Who has ordered the liquidation of Catalan secessionism? Mariano Rajoy and the Popular Party. Who has seen to it that the secessionists don’t have leaders because they’ve been beheaded? Mariano Rajoy and the Popular Party.’

    Carme Forcadell, the former speaker in the Catalan parliament, who is on 150,000 euros bail on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds, responded: ‘Thank you for confirming something we all knew, which is that there is no separation of powers in Spain and that it’s the government that tells the courts what to do.’

    However, calling for a dialogue of equals, he said he was ready to listen to any proposal from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy even if this offer fell short of an offer of independence.
    Puigemont said: ‘If the Spanish state has a proposal for Catalonia, we should listen.’

    The Spanish prime minister and Catalan separatist leaders had engaged in a new showdown on Friday after regional elections in Catalonia gave a majority of seats to separatists. ‘More than a million people are in favour of Catalonia’s independence. It is not a fiction, it is real,’ the region’s deposed president leader Carles Puigdemont said in Brussels.

    Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in October to avoid being arrested after the Catalan parliament declared independence, insisted that his strategy had been validated by voters. He said: ‘The republic has already been proclaimed, we have a mandate from the 1 October (independence referendum), and the 21 December is the ratification.’

    In Madrid, the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy replied that the results showed that Catalonia was ‘not monolithic’ and that ‘no one can speak in the name of Catalonia, if he does not consider all Catalonia.’ He said that the region would now enter a new stage, ‘based on dialogue and not on confrontation, on plurality and not on unilateral action.’

    In a repeat of the months that led to the independence referendum and the suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy, Rajoy and Puigdemont both said they were open to dialogue, but on different grounds. Puigdemont called on the Spanish government to ‘reject the unilateral way’ and open dialogue. He proposed a meeting to Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, ‘in any European Union country, except Spain, for obvious reasons’. But Rajoy ruled out such a meeting.

    ‘The one with whom I would sit down is the one who won the election, Ines Arrimadas,’ he told journalists in Madrid. Arrimadas’s party, the liberal anti-independence Ciutadans, won the most votes and seats, but has no majority to form a government.

    In Barcelona, the second main separatist party, ERC, said that it would be ‘loyal to what voters have decided’ and that it was ‘available for all convenient negotiations’ with Together for Catalonia (JxTCat) to form a government with Puigdemont as leader.

    ERC’s secretary general Marta Rovira said that the priorities should be to ‘work for the republic’ and free the ‘political prisoners’ – including the party leader and former deputy head of the government Oriol Junqueras.

    Rovira herself was charged on Friday for rebellion, sedition and embezzlement, as Puigdemont and Junqueras, over the declaration of independence. Puigdemont’s predecessor as Catalan leader, Artur Mas, was also charged. Puigdemont, whose list, Together for Catalonia, won the most seats within the pro-independence camp, insisted that he was the region’s ‘legitimate’ leader.

    Calling for ‘guarantees’ to be able to come back to Spain and take office without being arrested, he said: ‘I demand and I require to be respected. We are the legitimate government of Catalonia.’
    But Rajoy said that ‘justice should not be submitted to any political strategy’. The Spanish prime minister admitted the result of the election, which he called when he suspended Catalonia’s autonomy in the wake of the declaration of independence, were not what he expected.

    ‘Those of us who wanted a change did not get the support we would have liked to carry it through,’ he admitted. While implicitly admitting that separatists will continue to rule in Catalonia, he warned that he would ‘not accept that anyone breaks the constitution, or the law, or the statute of Catalonia.’

    ‘I hope that the new government abandons unilateral action and that it does not place itself outside the law,’ he said. Rajoy did not specify when he would end article 155 of the constitution, under which he suspended Catalonia’s autonomy, dismissed the government and parliament, and called Thursday’s election. He said that ‘article 155 will be withdrawn at the date established by the Senate: when there is a government.’

    While negotiations will take place in the coming weeks over the next regional government, and who can lead it, Rajoy admitted than the Catalan crisis is far from over. ‘The break-up in Catalonia will take time to mend and that reconciliation must be the first task of who will govern,’ he said.

    ‘The Spanish State has been defeated,’ Puigdemont told a crowd of cheering supporters in Brussels on Friday. Rajoy and his partners lost and have been slammed by the Catalans. They have lost the plebiscite they hoped would legalise the putsch they did with article 155,’ he said, referring to the direct rule Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed on Catalonia after its contested referendum.

    Clara Ponsatí, a sacked Catalan education minister and member of Together for Catalonia, said: ‘We fought in unequal conditions but we still have won, so I think that the democratic mandate is clear. And of course we need to talk and to negotiate, but the Spanish government needs to listen to the people of Catalonia.’

    Puigdemont and his former ministers now hope they will soon be able to return safely to Spain.
    ‘We would like to return tomorrow, but of course we will have to wait to see if there’s any reaction from the Spanish government and also if the Spanish justice system decides to change its opinion on our case,’ said Meritxell Serret, a former minister in Puigdemont”s government, but who belongs to a different pro-independence party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya.

    Puigdemont and his allies also want a meeting with EU representatives, in the hope that Europe will now listen to their independence movement. Prime Minister Rajoy, who called the elections after sacking Puigdemont’s Catalan government, had hoped Catalonia’s ‘silent majority’ would deal separatism a decisive blow, but his hard line backfired. ‘Either Rajoy changes his recipe or we change the country,’ Puigdemont said.

    https://wrp.org.uk/news/13933

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    • Saturday, February 24, 2018

      Men’s Football: FA charge Guardiola for showing solidarity with Catalonia

      MANCHESTER CITY manager Pep Guardiola was charged by the Football Association yesterday for wearing a political message.

      The FA said in a statement that the yellow ribbon worn by the former Barcelona boss on his jacket in support of imprisoned Catalan politicians was in breach of its kit and advertising regulations.

      Guardiola, whose side face Arsenal in the League Cup final tomorrow, has until 6pm on Monday to respond to the charge.

      Guardiola, who was born in the Catalan town of Santpedor and spent the best part of 20 years at Barcelona as player and coach, has previously explained his reasons for wearing the ribbon, which he has sported since at least November.

      Speaking in December, he said: “I do that because in Spain two specific people who defend something like the vote, something the people in command do not agree, are in prison. It’s unfair.

      “To make a rebellion on something like that, you have to be something tough to be in prison. And they are still there. So, while they are not out, always here [points to ribbon] will be shared with me.

      “Because, OK, they can suspend me for doing that, but the other people are in jail.

      “If they want to suspend me — Uefa, Premier League, Fifa — it’s OK.”

      Guardiola was specifically referring to politicians who were imprisoned for their involvement in the Catalonia independence referendum, which was declared illegal by Spain, in October.

      Guardiola explained his stance in response to comments from Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who questioned whether the ribbon was within the rules and claimed he would not be allowed to do a similar thing.

      https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/fa-charge-guardiola-showing-solidary-catalonia

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