A strange campaign for strange days, and despite being the strangest, it is also the only way to leave behind the sensation of being mired in a bog that won’t let us move forward. It is a bog made of political prisoners in prisons with bedbugs, a president in limbo in resistance mode, thousands of citizens that travelled many kilometers to Brussels to civically express their perplexity with an apparently deaf EU and a central government and unionist parties dead set on a "Let's get 'em!" attitude. The uncertainty is damaging many people's economic expectations, and the administration's paralysis leaves political decisions bogged down. Results of opinion polls could change in coming days due to the high number of undecided voters, but if they indicate any reliable trend it is the willingness of a record number of Catalans to vote, and the unique opportunity for Ciudadanos to be the leading party in votes. That makes this campaign a fight for survival, a call for resistance from the pro-sovereignty parties, and an appeal to the order of a united and homogeneous Spain from the parties behind Article 155.
If in a traditional election campaign the aim is to draw the future, this time the pro-sovereignty proposal is more to stop the coup and rebuild what Catalonia was politically on October 27th, to recalculate strengths and strategies. To revise strategies, except in the case of the CUP, the party that is the most determined and least worn down by the cold shower of realism that recent years of exercising power, prison, and exile have meant for the majority parties.
A headless chicken
The political and judicial tidal wave of recent weeks threw the pro-independence camp off its game. There were days when they were running around like a headless chicken. Depression took over ERC due to the imprisonment of its undisputed leader, Oriol Junqueras, with its resources dedicated to legal strategies, and up-and-coming leaders either in prison or the legal antechamber. With the addition of Carles Mundó and Raül Romeva, their proposal gains a bit of consistency, though not any specifics over the "what" and "how" of December 22nd, the day after elections. For his part, Carles Puigdemont, surrounded by little more than some fifteen young team members from his administration, has decided to "keep going". To set the party aside and at the same time maintain the possibility of a worthy result by putting the focus on his particular calling card: the dignity of his office. Puigdemont has a short electoral platform: to resist. And a matching message: fight against Article 155 and the forces that supported it.
The lack of a joint slate for the elections is the result of tensions originating in the October 27th independence proclamation and the logistical problems in reacting to Mariano Rajoy calling for elections, which surprised even García Albiol himself. The non-aggression pact between ERC and JxCat, which was to keep strategic errors and disagreements under wraps, was broken this weekend. With two good arguments. On the one hand, President Puigdemont is not willing to give up representing the institution, and thus, wants to reestablish it with himself at the head. On the other, ERC wonders who will act as president if Puigdemont cannot return to Catalonia, or if he ends up in prison. This is a question that the president has refused to answer. Without discounting anything-- such as reappearing in Catalonia, or being sworn in as a representative while abroad, or delaying the taking of office --, there are some names that could be prepared for the succession. From Elsa Artadi to Ferran Mascarell. They would have to lead the metamorphosis of JxCat.
The parties are coming into the campaign in two blocks and with one unknown. The pro-independence bloc, divided and with a shares manifesto that aims to put an end to Article 155 and free the prisoners. Likely because it can't face a scenario of confrontation with a State that has legal and economic weapons at its disposal to paralyze it, when independence supporters, with the only good criteria possible, are not willing to call for violence. The other bloc has the opportunity to achieve its best results with, in the case of Ciudadanos and the PP, a proposal for reversing self-government, and, in the case of the PSOE, with the mantra of a phantom constitutional reform. Catalunya en Comú is maintaining its own way made up of nuances at a time of a need for broader strokes. Spain's political regeneration is an enormous project in which many Catalans have long since decided they don't believe. If a reform of Spain were possible, this would be the time to formulate proposals.
In two blocs, and with the spirit of "Let's get 'em" prepared to erase four decades of self-government and the tortuous road of recent years, the electorate must go to the polls, even if dragging its feet.