ANC readying Diada event in Barcelona that is "responsive" to political developments

Members of the pro-independence grassroots group are sending in their proposals for an adaptable event that may respond to a range of scenarios, come September

"In September, we may well be in the middle of the referendum campaign or the Spanish government may have suspended Catalonia’s home rule". These are the possible scenarios which the ANC [The Catalan National Assembly] is considering in preparation for this year’s Diada [The National Day of Catalonia, on 11 September]. According to various sources close to the organisation, it is planning a rally in Barcelona city that is flexible enough to respond to the developments in the process. Sources close to the ANC’s leadership claim that this year the road to self-determination has entered its "final" phase, which inevitably involves changing the way the Diada is organised.

Our sources confirmed that it will not be possible to announce details of the 2017 event during the ANC’s annual general meeting on 29 April in Granollers, unlike in previous years. Instead, it has decided to draft a proposal which is flexible enough to adapt to the possible scenarios that may occur if the Catalan government and Parliament go ahead with the referendum and Catalonia’s breakaway from Spain.

Regional and local groups have been working on the plan for some weeks now, sending in proposals for a sixth consecutive rally on 11 September to the ANC’s mobilization committee, which is aware of the "difficulties" involved in deciding on a proposal. According to the Catalan government’s plans, the referendum will take place in September, once Parliament has passed the legal transitoriness law, which is intended to legally protect the vote and regulate the transition from Spanish laws to Catalan laws. If this scenario is confirmed and the referendum goes ahead, we will be in uncharted waters, since this time, unlike the participatory process of 9 November, the Spanish state is not prepared to let the vote take place.

"We must be ready to defend our institutions", stated one of those consulted by this newspaper, adding that, aside from 11 September itself, the institutions must also be prepared for "permanent mobilization": to take to the streets if the Spanish government tries to stop the referendum or if the Catalan institutions themselves are weakened by the response from the Spanish government. As a result of such uncertainty as to the likely scenario, at present the ANC is not considering organising a "performance" such as the pointer carried along Meridian Avenue in 2015 or the ‘heartbeat’ of last year’s 11 September. For the ANC "the type of event ought to be symbolic and responsive to every scenario". The Catalan Assembly openly admits that nothing has yet been decided. Nevertheless, it has continued with its usual fund-raising actions, such as the sale of T-shirts.

Less internal tension

Unlike last year, when decentralized mobilizations were organized in five areas across the country --Barcelona, Berga, Salt, Tarragona and Lleida--, this year the majority believe that the rally will be centralized. In fact, in 2016 this option was on the cards until the last moment, as part of a strained internal decision-making process. A year ago there was a clash between critics and supporters of the current president, Jordi Sànchez, during elections to its national secretariat. There will be no repeat of these scenes this year, since a change in the ANC’s statutes means the national secretariat is elected every two years. Such a hostile climate now appears far off, with internal efforts to prepare the next mobilizations expected to be good-natured.

Whatever the outcome, the ANC is willing to take to the streets after the Diada. With the peaceful nature of the demonstrations a foregone conclusion, it believes that ultimately the public will play a decisive.

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