Editorial 15/07/2015

Catalonia will hold a plebiscite on independence on 27 September

The independence movement again takes initiative to mark plebiscite character of 27-S

2 min

The agreement reached by CDC and ERC with the support of pro-sovereignty organizations and splinter groups from PSC (the socialists of MES) and UDC (pro-independence Christian democrats) clarifies the Catalan electoral scenario for 27-S. The polls --officially, a regional election--, now take on a clearly plebiscite format, with one openly pro-independence bloc led by a joint list that combines the grassroots groups that have rallied for the past five years in favor in independence, with repeated massive street demonstrations, with the two largest parties in Parliament: the center-right CDC led by President Artur Mas, and the left-leaning ERC, led by Oriol Junqueras. That the two main political forces of the country, ideologically opposite, will join together to run in an election is an indication of the exceptional nature of this political moment, and the seriousness and broad-based nature of the challenge. This plurality will be enhanced by the candidacy of radical left party CUP, which adds a clearly groundbreaking social program to the democratic separatist platform.

With two and a half months remaining before the election, the separatist parties -- which, in principle, lead in the polls-- have managed to steer the vote clearly towards a referendum that the Spanish government has repeatedly refused to allow. In addition, the agreement between CDC and ERC not only aims to catalyze the pro-independence vote by expanding the Yes electoral base, but also, if it wins, will mean a unity government and a calendar for a split from Spain that does not shun a desirable negotiated process, but also does not make it a sine qua non condition.

As to the unionist bloc, it will be divided into three lists, with two clearly trending downward (PSC and PP) and one upward, the new pro-Spanish swing party Ciudadanos, led by the Catalan Albert Rivera. An electoral no-man’s-land is occupied by the shrunken UDC led by the historic nationalist Duran i Lleida on the right, and on the left a confluence of forces in favor of the Catalan right to self-determination but not of independence (Podemos, ICV-EUiA, and maybe Procés Constituent), a rising brand that still lacks leadership for 27-S, and which will compete for the same ideological space as the CUP.