Monday, December 14, 2009

Saül Gordillo - The Catalan Formula: the Polls

Saül Gordillo is a journalist and director of the Agència Catalana de Notícies [Catalan News Agency]. This is from his blog.

Perfectly acceptable turnout (30%) when you consider that it was a symbolic referendum, without any actual legal heft. Overwhelming victory for the Yes vote (94.71%). 200,000 people participated in a democratic marathon without precedent. Not only for the excellent organization, for the noteworthy civic-mindedness, for the ability to mobilize the independentists on the street, for the enormous broadminded sovereigntism that brought together all these referendums, but also for the beginning of the feeling that they suppose. Arenys de Munt was first on the trail, but what happened this weekend was much more important. Counties brimming with municipalities, and a bunch of towns besides, up to 167, including metropolitan cities as important as Sant Cugat del Vallès (25.48% turnout, with 15,048 votes).

The movement grows and the grassroots model for the referendums has multiple repercussions. Independentism organizes itself and gives a lesson in turnout, seriousness and rigour. Also of collective boldness and hope. There is a social strength that this Sunday no-one could look down on. Look what González Pons (from the PP [Conservative Political Party] said. They have no legal but much political value. They don't shift even a comma of the current legal system, but they represent a notable step forward in the struggle for the national liberties of the country. From the PSOE, in contrast, Chaves insists on sneering, now with more care from the socialists and governing Spaniards than they had with the referendum in Arenys de Munt. They got that lesson anyway.

But the true success of the 13th of December is not, despite what many analysts say, the repercussions that this may have in Madrid, in the midst of the current soap opera that is the finding of the Constitutional Court. The Estatut [Statute of Autonomy upon which the Court will render a verdict] and the finding don't matter a whit to those who voted this Sunday. The Statute has lost the focus for these, they have already moved on. This Sunday, the debate was elsewhere, it was not about the Statute so heavily edited by Moncloa [the Spanish Whitehouse]. The success of 13D, therefore, is an internal key: lose the fear, position the independentist debate on the street, in the center of the political discussion, use it as a strategic wedge in the upcoming elections (Parliamentary, local, etc.) and unbalance the two axes of Catalan politics — right-left and Catalanist-Spainist — in favor of the nation.

The other victory of 13D, following in the footsteps of what happened in Arenys de Munt, but now multiplied by the editorial in Le Monde, and the coverage by the BBC, is the widespread resonance in the global press. Which in turn had an important impact on coverage by journalists in Catalonia itself. One small push in the fight against the self-loathing practiced to date by some media outlets when they speak about independence. A victory thanks to the globalness (and to the Internet in part) and to the Catalan Formula: the polls.

The polls are the key to everything. This icon awakens no uneasiness, except in Spain, of course. Here and on an international level, as well as for a model for other nations without their own State, the Catalan solution of civilized polls is an authentic lesson. The message is very clear. We want to vote. We want to do it for real one day. Everyone. And with the real power to decide.

by Saül Gordillo. Originally published on his blog on 14 December 2009

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