Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Tuesday, 21 july 2015 | THE GUARDIAN


Pep the politician: Guardiola lends name to Catalonian separatist party

Bayern Munich manager to stand in regional elections – although candidacy is largely symbolic gesture because



He has been hailed as one of the world’s top football managers – the man who led Barcelona to 14 titles in four years and is currently the coach of Bayern Munich.

Now those pushing for Catalan independence are hoping Pep Guardiola can help secure a win off the field, as a figurehead in the movement to break away from Spain.

The 44-year-old has agreed to stand as a candidate for the two main parties seeking independence from Spain in the Catalan regional elections, scheduled to be held on 27 September. His name will be the last one on the list, making his candidacy more of a symbolic gesture in support of Catalan independence rather than any kind of career change.

Guardiola, who was born in the central Catalan town of Santpedor, has long advocated for secession. He has backed international campaigns to rally for the north-eastern region’s right to hold an independence referendum like that granted to Scotland last year and last November he travelled to the region to cast his ballot in the symbolic referendum on independence.

The issue of secession was reignited last week, after Catalan leader Artur Mas said his party, Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, would join forces with the Catalan Republican Left to create a joint front for independence in the upcoming regional elections.
On Monday, the two parties presented their joint candidacy (in which the leaders of pro-independence organisations such as the Catalan National Assembly also figure prominently. Guardiola was not in attendance, however, as he is currently touring China with Bayern Munich.
Mas is expected to continue as regional president if the joint candidacy triumphs in September.
The agreement between the two parties also maps out a path towards secession from Spain within 18 months of winning a majority, effectively turning the regional election into a plebiscite on independence.

On Sunday, Mas urged Catalans to back the initiative, saying: “We have a great opportunity here. Let’s take advantage of it, because it might not come again for a long time.”
In recent months, polls have suggested that support for Catalan independence is on the wane, with Catalonia’s state-run Centre for Opinion Studies finding that those in support of an independent Catalan state has dropped to 38%, down from 45% a year earlier.
Some have pointed to the rise of political upstarts Podemos and Ciudadanos to explain the decline, with Mas telling the Wall Street Journal in April that the emergence of Podemos was “highly negative” for the independence movement. While centre-right Ciudadanos is ardently opposed to secession, anti-austerity party Podemos has said it supports the right of Catalans to decide but would prefer to see Catalonia remain part of Spain.

In the past, Spain’s conservative prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has continuously blocked all attempts by Catalonia to pursue the topic of independence. Last week he showed little sign of veering from his hardline stance. “There will be no Catalan independence,” he told reporters, seeking to clearly untangle the issue of independence from the upcoming elections. “We are talking about regional elections, in which people will choose their regional parliament. Nothing else.”

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

We aim to be recognized as a trustworthy source of information and ideas about Catalonia from a Catalan point of view.
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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia