While the political discussion continues to circle around the contents of the Mas-Rajoy meeting, once again civil society has got behind the wheel of the Catalan political process. Having completed their call for the right to self-determination, which most people now take as a given, Òmnium and the ANC presented the macro-campaign "Now is the Time", which will incorporate all of the mobilization activities of the independence movement until 9 November. "The objective now is not to get people to vote, but to take the steps necessary to guarantee that when we vote, we will win", said the campaign coordinator, Oriol Soler, during the presentation yesterday at the Museum of Design in the Plaça of Les Glòries in Barcelona. The grassroots independence movement is putting all in, hoping for a double victory on 9 November: the culmination of decades of increasing calls for the right to self-determination and the victory of political independence.
"Now is the time. United for a new country." is the double slogan of the Catalan equivalent of the campaign for Scottish independence promoted by Yes Scotland with its sights set on their referendum on 18 September. The campaign was presented jointly yesterday by the presidents of Òmnium and the ANC, Muriel Casals and Carme Forcadell respectively. "We want to win with the tools of democracy", said Forcadell.
To do so, the promoters aim to recruit 100,000 volunteers who are willing to donate part of their time or skills to advance the campaign that hopes to channel all of the enthusiasm of the grassroots independence movement. The plan is to coordinate an effort to convince, one-by-one and face-to-face, up to a quarter of the 2 million voters that they estimate are doubtful, abstainers, or supporters of a "yes" vote on the first question-- "Do you want Catalonia to be a State?"-- but a "no" vote on the second question--"If you voted yes, do you want this State to be independent?". This would mean a half million new supporters of independence that could tip the balance to a clear and incontestable vote in favor of political independence.
Now is the Time wants to strengthen the social majority in favor of independence. It plans to accomplish this by direct, one-to-one contact, an approach that evokes elements of the digital campaigns of "constant contact with voters" that characterized the electoral campaigns that carried Barack Obama and Dilma Rousseff to the presidency of the USA and Brazil. It is therefore no coincidence that the campaign has incorporated Blue State Digital, the company that managed the digital campaigns of Obama and Rousseff, and also that of the British unionists Better Together. The company has joined the team of international advisors to the promoters of Now is the Time, which has entrusted its strategic direction to University of Lleida professor Jordi Segarra.
How do you add 500,000 new voters to the cause of independence in two months? "We have to connect directly with each of them to be able to talk with them in a clear and personal manner", explained Soler yesterday. He regards the configuration of this network to be the key to dispelling doubts and fears that may still be hovering over this political project.
The campaign will be financed exclusively through private donations, which explains the promoters' appeal for participation in what they have called the "most important fundraising campaign ever done in this country". "Without resources we can't hope to compete with an adversary [Spain] that has all the resources imaginable", warned Soler.
The campaign will carry out up to a thousand events throughout the country from today through 9 November, the most important date of this year, according to the presidents of the ANC and Òmnium. But there will be an indispensable stop along the way: what has been baptized as the Catalan Way 2014, the giant V with its vertex at the Plaça de Les Glòries in Barcelona, and the two arms extending up Gran Via to the Sarah Bernhardt Plaza (the Campana building), and up Diagonal to Plaça Pius XII, where the Princess Sofia hotel stands.
Key mobilization for 9 November
There are almost 12 kilometers-- more than five and a half kilometers on each of the avenues-- that the promoters want to fill with people in what they hope will be "the biggest demonstration in the history of Catalonia". According to ANC director Ignasi Termes, it "has to become the guarantee that we will vote and we will win on 9 November". The ANC and Òmnium have created a space on the website araeslhora.cat for participants to sign up for the 11 September rally. They want to use this method to guarantee a balanced distribution of participants throughout the route, thus avoiding last-minute jams, and to plan out a giant Catalan flag (senyera) with people wearing yellow and red T-shirts that they can purchase when they register online.
On 12 September, the day after the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the fall of Barcelona to the Bourbon troops of Philip V, the second phase will begin, which is the actual electoral campaign leading up to 9 November.
ICV wants Mas and Rajoy to talk about more than the consultation
Yesterday the national coordinator for ICV, Joan Herrera, asked Catalan president Artur Mas to include other issues than just the consultation in his upcoming meeting with Mariano Rajoy in the Moncloa palace. Among these issues, according to Herrera, are unemployment and evictions. "I have spent more time talking about the call than on the call itself", he said ironically about the telephone call that he had on Wednesday with Mas regarding his meeting with Rajoy. Meanwhile, the chief of staff of Mas' party (CDC), Josep Rull, called the attitude of Rajoy "insensitive"-- an attitude characterized by refusing to talk about the 9 November consultation. "Ballot boxes are the solution", said Rull. The president of the Catalan PP, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, took advantage of a visit to Salou to say that the president cannot meet with Rajoy to discuss a subject that, according to her, is "illegal".