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ANC to encourage non-stop rallying for independence

Once the ‘disconnection law’ is passed, the ANC will call on Catalans to come out in support of their institutions until the referendum is held

“Grassroots action, without doubt, is the decisive, fundamental element which will legitimise the political decisions" taken in the final stages of the independence process. This sentence from the proposal accompanying the ANC’s [Catalan National Assembly] roadmap —as reported in yesterday’s ARA— is a declaration of intent about the role that the principal pro-independence group will play in ensuring that the process is successfully concluded, either through a referendum or a proclamation of independence by the Catalan Parliament. The latter would occur if Spain were to prevent the vote from going ahead, a scenario which the ANC does not discount.

The key argument in the Assembly’s new roadmap, which was drawn up by the organisation’s committee for political advocacy, with the unanimous backing of its national secretariat, is promoting action at grassroots level to help Catalan institutions stand their ground in their struggle with the Spanish state in favour of the referendum. According to ANC sources, the starting point of this “non-stop" rallying is the passing of the ‘legal transitoriness law’ by the Catalan Parliament and the calling of the referendum. Junts pel Sí and the CUP plan to do both in a single day and thereby forestall the Constitutional Court’s veto.

A member of the ANC stated that "The key will be the passing of the disconnection law", stressing that the organisation’s "prime" function is to encourage the public to rally, as demonstrated every Diada [The National Day of Catalonia]. The ANC feels that the "moment of truth" has arrived and that it is time to take to the streets and to mobilise the public over a "sustained period", in a manner which is "peaceful and democratic, proportional, yet firm", up until the day of the referendum. In the ANC’s 2017 roadmap (which will be open to amendments at the assembly on 29 April), the leadership sees the role of the public as "decisive" at every stage of the process.

The idea of non-stop rallying, which the ANC has been brewing in recent months, has come up on several occasions in political circles. The government and pro-independence parties are clear that to successfully complete the process, political resolve must be matched by action on the streets. Yesterday, Vice President Oriol Junqueras declared in an interview with RAC1 that achieving independence depends on a "combination" of political decisions and the people’s support. Several days ago, the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell also spoke of "ongoing" rallying as key to defending the referendum.

What form will this mobilisation take? According to the sources consulted, it remains to be seen, since the civil pro-independence movement will adapt the nature of its protests according to how Spain responds and its degree of hostility. However, the ANC’s rank and file are already discussing these issues. The summary of the ANC’s regional meeting held last November in Cervera —a document obtained by Barcelona daily La Vanguardia— speaks of "permanent sit-ins”, "general strikes”, "spontaneous rallies" and "mass demonstrations". ANC sources admit that these very scenarios are being studied, though they insist that any decisions will be made when the confrontation occurs.

A "physical" veto on the referendum

If the Spanish government tries to prevent Parliament from holding a vote on the legal transitoriness law, the ANC, whose current president is Jordi Sànchez, expects to carry out the "necessary mobilisations" to ensure it takes place. However, if Catalonia has its home rule suspended or the Spanish government "physically" prevents the vote, the ANC is in favour of Parliament declaring independence thanks to the Junts pel Sí and the CUP majority arising from the elections of 27 September 2016. If necessary, it will be the Assembly of Elected Representatives, an organisation backed by the Association of Municipalities for Independence, which includes all elected officials who are pro-independence, who will actually declare independence.

Although they are prepared in case Spain tries to halt the referendum, the ANC’s efforts will focus on encouraging people to take action in order to allow the vote to go ahead and taking steps to ensure they win. The roadmap is designed so that everyone concerned plays the part assigned to them, while creating a single framework that brings together all the supporters of the ‘yes’ campaign and serves to increase the social consensus in favour of independence.

The ANC is committed to employing "all its logistical and economic resources, and all of its people", in favour of a victory in the referendum. However, for it to be considered internationally "valid", the ANC has imposed certain conditions: a clear, binary question; the "greatest number of votes" for the winning option, and no established minimum turnout. As a result, they favour the following question "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent country?".

The judicialisation of the process

Although ANC sources see this non-stop rallying as beginning once Parliament passes the disconnection law, they also point out that legal proceedings against the process could accelerate the response from the public. The court proceedings against the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell could serve as a trigger. Nevertheless, the response to the first court ruling against the process —Artur Mas, Irene Rigau and Joan Ortega being banned from public office— has not yet arrived. Sources close to pro-independence organisations said on Tuesday that it was “not the time to pull out all the stops". The ANC wants to reassure itself that none of those in favour of independence will be tired of taking to the streets when the time comes for ongoing public participation.

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