The Democratic Party fired the starting shot of their Yes campaign on March 26 with an event held in Barcelona’s Teatre Nacional de Catalunya that was meant to pay tribute to the Catalan political leaders convicted over the non-binding independence vote of 2014. With the slogan “Yes to the best country”, the PDECat wants to know if Catalonia could become the best country in southern Europe in fields such as innovation, business, the environment and culture. Campaign coordinator Montserrat Candini (MP) explained that they have drawn inspiration from JFK and Gandhi, and their campaign’s website is headed with the following Kennedy quote: “Political freedom is a necessary condition for economic development and social change”.
Esquerra Republicana had no plans to launch a Yes campaign of their own and intended to join the unitary campaign, which was originally slated for April 23 but was postponed several times until September 15. The party led by Oriol Junqueras set aside €1m of its 2017 budget to fund the campaign, which kicked off on March 4 with a massive rally (5,000 people) held in Barcelona city’s Auditori del Fòrum with the slogan “The Republic that we want”. The campaign includes posters bearing a number of statements to which one may respond with a Yes or No: “Timely public transport”, “A government that supports culture”, “Quality jobs with decent wages” and “An environmentally-friendly economy”.
Yesterday the CUP unveiled a “bolshevik” campaign jointly devised with the pro-independence anti-capitalist left which aims to lure voters within their ideological spectrum. Prior to that, the coalition had already rolled out its very own campaign at a rally on June 23 in Barcelona’s Sant Andreu borough. Their campaign slogan is “Yes, living means taking sides” and it is primarily aimed at Catalunya en Comú’s electorate, which sits next to the CUP’s in the Catalan political spectrum. At the event, the CUP MPs asked governing coalition Junts Pel Sí to split the law of legal transitoriness and pass the referendum bill separately in parliament. The government was unsure about it at the time, but that is precisely what it has done eventually.
Unió’s pro-independence splinter group was the early bird and launched its Yes campaign before anyone else. On December 15 they hosted an event at Barcelona’s Col·legi de Periodistes featuring a number of well-known names in the secessionist camp, such as Bernat Dedéu, Jordi Graupera, Uriel Bertran and Elisenda Paluzie, among others. Demòcrates have held several rallies and events in 2017. Their latest initiative consists of a series of short, ironic videos where they review everything that Catalans won’t have to do anymore, in the event of a Yes win: funding the Francisco Franco Foundation, paying for the “Madridterranean” railway corridor and being the subjects of a king.
Catalan National Assembly (ANC)
The Assembly’s Yes campaign kicked off on April 19, shortly before Sant Jordi’s Day. With the slogan “You are the change”, they have pledged to fill Catalonia’s streets and balconies with Yes banners. Large displays featuring cartoon speech bubbles with the word “Yes” had cropped up in various places across Catalonia only a few days earlier, but nobody knew who was behind the action. In the last few months, the ANC’s efforts have focused on devising the joint Yes campaign and securing a massive turnout on September 11, Catalonia’s National Day. This year they intend to draw a gigantic plus sign by filling carrer Aragó and Passeig de Gràcia with pro-independence demonstrators.
The other main grassroots group, Òmnium, has reserved for itself the job of persuading Catalans to turn out to vote on October 1. As part of its Crida per la democràcia (A Call for Democracy) effort, on July 30 Òmnium unveiled a campaign entitled Omplim el país de democràcia (“Let’s fill the nation with democracy”) which involves graffiti and mural painting, as well as hanging out posters and banners with the word “democracy” printed on them. A few days ago they announced that a crop duster will fly up and down the Catalan coastline towing a “Democracy” banner and, only yesterday, banners encouraging Catalans to vote —without endorsing either option— appeared in several Catalan cities. One of Òmnium’s targets is the electorate that identifies with Catalunya en Comú, the new Catalan left that remains lukewarm about independence.