Catalan National Day: a chance for the separatists?

Status: 09/11/2021 1:54 p.m.

Catalonia celebrates its national day. The separatists use this day again to demand independence. But many Catalans are now tired of the fruitless protests.

By Reinhard Spiegelhauer, ARD Studio Madrid

Nine o’clock in the morning is traditionally the official start of the national holiday, the Diada – up until a good ten years ago it was mainly a happy folk festival where people celebrate the Catalan language and culture. Since then, the influence of separatist citizens’ movements – initially especially the so-called Catalan National Congress – has grown enormously. Until the preliminary high point in 2017.

At that time, more people than ever in choruses demanded dignity and freedom, a state of their own. In Barcelona alone there were around a million people on the streets at that time. But the illegal referendum a few weeks later fizzled out. Not constitutional, judged courts. Leading separatists were sentenced to long prison terms. Many in Catalonia are tired of the fruitless dispute with the central government – just half of those eligible to vote actually voted in the regional elections in February.

The bare numbers look like that not even 15 percent of the electorate voted for one of the three parties that are in favor of more independence or even a state of their own in the regional parliament – nevertheless they together have a majority – because of the low turnout and the complexity Suffrage.

Lots of pathos and pithy words

In the communication between the separatists and their supporters, the focus is of course on this: Catalonia has experienced historical events, and the independence movement has received the most votes for the first time. This was also emphasized by Pere Aragones, now Prime Minister of Catalonia, in a speech shortly after the election. That is not true with the majority of votes, it is only a majority of the seats – but so be it.

However, the government did not exist until three months after the election. Because the independentistas, the advocates of independence who are forming a coalition with one another, are actually not particularly green – they have been for years.

What is new is that for the first time the ERC, the Republican Left, is providing the Prime Minister – precisely that Pere Aragones: less than 40 years old, 1.63 tall. He wears a well-groomed full beard, glasses and pithy words in his mouth. He calls for an amnesty for the condemned politicians and officials in 2017, and for self-determination for the region.

Prime Minister Aragones calls for self-determination for the region.

Image: AFP

That is the great consensus in Catalan society, he says – as I said: in fact, not even 15 percent of the electorate voted for independence parties. But clattering is also an essential part of the business of the independentistas.

The conflict will remain

After all, a round table with representatives of the central government will start next week: Aragones is at least fundamentally ready for dialogue after Spain’s Prime Minister Sanchez was neither able nor wanted to waive the sentences of 2017 – but pardoned them. He got a beating from the conservative opposition in Madrid, but someone has to take the first step. Time alone will not heal the wounds in the conflict between Catalonia and the central state, said the socialist head of government.

A negotiated solution for more independence as an autonomous community, a fairer financial equalization between the regions – for both central government and Catalonia, probably the better solution. The Basque Country has not only been showing this since the end of the ETA terror.

Reclaim lost ground

But the actually moderate Catalan Aragones is sitting on the back of the coalition partner, the considerably more radical JuntsXcat. This is the party of ex-Prime Minister Puigdemont, who fled to Brussels. A few days ago, just before the Diada, the radical separatist Puigdemont quickly poured fuel into the fire again from Brussels. In an open letter quoted on the television news, he wrote:

The confrontation with the central state is essential if Catalonia is to be recognized as a nation in its own right.

At the Diada today, the radical separatists want to regain lost ground. The Catalan National Congress ANC – the same name as the South African National Congress is no coincidence, you see yourself as oppressed – organizes the central rally in Barcelona. If he has his way, the Diada not only celebrates happily as it used to be, but above all sets the mood – for the secession from Spain.

Separatists want to recapture the streets on the Catalan national holiday, Diada

Reinhard Spiegelhauer, ARD Madrid, 11.9.2021 11:53 a.m.

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