Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Sunday, 3 december 2017


Letter from Estremera prison: “We can’t trust Madrid to oversee Catalonia’s election — the EU must step in”

The people’s votes must not just be counted. They must count, argues Oriol Junqueras from Estremera prison, in Madrid.

MADRID — On December 21, Catalonia will hold new regional elections. Under other circumstances, these elections would be of little interest to the rest of Europe — we Catalans realize we are not the center of the universe. But today, I believe I am not exaggerating to say that these elections are being watched across the Continent, and without wishing to be presumptuous, perhaps of interest to the international community as a whole.
The Spanish government chose to call these elections, taking on the powers heretofore granted to the regional government, after Madrid completely took over the democratic institutions that run Catalonia, and after sending the bulk of the Catalan government to jail. These elections, therefore, take place in the following circumstances: The government chosen by Catalonia’s citizens are in jail, Catalonia’s institutions have been usurped, and the ultra-right carries out violence with impunity on Catalonia’s streets.
My party, the Republican Left of Catalonia, agreed to participate in these elections, which will be overseen by the Central Electoral Board in Madrid, even though we are facing violence and repression and are basically under siege. We accepted these conditions because we were the ones who defended the right of Catalonia’s citizens to go to the polls on October 1. We are again showing that we are in favor of ballot boxes, and we respect the will of the people that is expressed there, no matter what.
The question now is whether the Spanish government will do the same. And we don’t mean that they officially accept the will of the people, but whether they will really do this. That is to say, will they listen to what the voters actually say, or will they ignore the will of the Catalan people once more and continue to persecute them? That is the main question now. Elections are to be listened to. They are a way for citizens to channel their demands. They are not meant simply to be a formal show of democracy. Can the will of the people prevail or will force overrule it?

Frankly, it is hard to believe that Spain’s conservative People’s Party government will actually respect the result of these elections. Therefore, it is vital that the European Union oversee the results to ensure they are truly respected, and to erase any doubts about the outcome. Above all, the EU can help ensure from the start that with the results of these elections on December 21, the abuses will end. Europe’s absence so far, and its declaration that this is an “internal matter” for Spain, threatens to become a serious mid to long-term problem.

The EU has a duty to uphold democracy. What the citizens express with their votes cannot be just a mark on a sheet of paper, but a choice that will be implemented, so that our future can be built on a democratic foundation. That is the difference between a real democracy and a formal democracy, one that is just for show.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia