Thursday, 22 November 2012

Vote CiU to Send Strong Message about Unity in Catalonia

Aquí trobeu la versió en català

To all my Catalan neighbours who are still doubt for whom to vote coming Sunday, November 25, I would want to remind you about the value of symbols.

Since I am a Swedish citizen, I am not allowed to vote this time, but I feel ideologically close to CiU (CDC, to be more precise). I share their commitment to free enterprise and at the same time I think they interpret and present Catalonia in a way which matches with the society that surrounds me.

Many of you will not share these feelings, but I still ask you to consider voting for Artur Mas this time. For all of us who think that Catalonia is a nation and defend the Catalans’ right to decide their own future, I cannot imagine a stronger signal of Catalan unity than one party taking more than half of the seats in the parliament. And I can promise you that, if this happens, it will have an immense effect on and through international media.

An absolute majority for CiU will at the same time allow the new government not to have to discuss ever single issue with other political forces but focus on the big picture. In my eyes, this will help to stabilize our foreseeably turbulent journey during the coming years and, under all circumstances, strengthen Catalonia’s position in negotiations with Madrid and the EU.

But what if CiU abuses your confidence and takes another route than what they are promising today? What if it turns out that Artur Mas has indeed been involved in corruption? Well, personally I do not think that this will happen, but I understand your concerns and would ask you not to underestimate the force of democracy here. Remember the messages which Catalans have recently managed to communicate to the world by taking to the streets: First, on September 11, a strong demand for “Catalonia – a new state in Europe” and then, on November 14, protests against the effects of austerity measures in the public welfare state and unacceptable unemployment levels. A people with this capacity to mobilize can force any government to step down.

These elections will change the way the world sees Catalonia. Why not opt for maximum impact?

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Regarding the rumours about corruption which has tainted the debate in Catalonia during the last few days, I fully agree with Toni Soler. Let us not listen to allegations made by a highly conservative, pro-centralization newspaper, but have confidence in Artur Mas and hope that CiU fully appreciates the value of our trust.

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Another reason I see for feeling confident about the health of Catalan democracy is the vitality of the party system. On Sunday - for the third time in a row - a new political party will enter the parliament of Catalonia – I am of course talking about CUP.

As a liberal I do not at all agree with CUP's anti-capitalist message, but for several years I have followed them on the municipal level here in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona) and that has given me a big respect for this movement. In Sweden, we do not have any political force working like this from the grass root level, by actively involving young people in politics and teaching them the processes and values of democratic decision making.

Never before in my life have I met a party with such a flat organization, where you easily can connect with its representatives, not only during election campaigns. If these people - “united, happy and prepared to fight” for what they believe in - can play a similar role for the scrutiny and transparency of Catalan politics as they do here in our town, then we all have a lot to win. So, although I would never vote for them, I confess that I admire their creative election campaign. Check out this video in German which they have made for Angela Merkel.

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The November 25 elections are not about a possible independence of Catalonia, but about whether Catalans should have the right to decide their own future or can only be allowed to do so together with the rest of Spain. I am firmly for Catalans’ right to decide and hope that a future referendum can finally clear the air in this low-intense conflict which I have always felt around me during the now eight years I have been living in Catalonia.

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