Friday

10th Apr 2020

Opinion

The Catalan National Day has been a success. Why?

  • Exiled former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, addressing supporters in Brussels in 2017 (Photo: Jordi Bedmar/president.cat)

On Wednesday (11th September), hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated once again in the streets of Barcelona to demand the right of self-determination and the freedom of the Catalan political prisoners.

Despite this, some media - especially those based in Madrid - have emphasised that "the National Day of Catalonia - the 'Diada' -has failed". Nonetheless, this affirmation doesn't fit with reality.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Catalonia has been massively mobilising since 2012 to claim that it wants to decide its own future democratically, and, throughout these years, there have been many demonstrations that have exceeded one million people in the streets.

There is no country in Europe that has seen such large and sustained mobilisations over time, with between 10 percent and 20 percent of the population participating.

When have we seen in Madrid a rally of nine million people, or 12 million protesters in the streets of Paris?

Numbers game

Beyond the sterile debate of figures, the main success from this 11th September is the message of determination and civility that has been sent out to the world.

Catalonia wants to freely decide its collective future, and wants to do so in a peaceful and democratic way just like the United Kingdom and Scotland or Canada and Quebec did.

And, most of all, the 'Diada' shows that Catalan citizens won't give up in demanding the exercise of this democratic right, because, most importantly, the will of Catalans to be and persist as a people prevails.

While Catalonia claims once again for political solutions to this political conflict, the Spanish state remains determined to settle the matter through the courts, with a judicial sentence to the Catalan political and civil society leaders on trial, which everybody expects to be harsh and could be announced in the next few weeks.

What European democrat can think that, in the 21st century, a political difference can be resolved with prison sentences?

Why has the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, allowed the state's prosecutor office and Spanish attorney general's office to request up to 25 years in jail?

Internationally, the arrival of Sánchez to the Spanish government (with the votes in favour of the pro-independence parties) could be a certain message of hope in order to open up a new path to dialogue and negotiation.

Months later, independence-seeking politicians are still waiting for someone to sit at the dialogue table.

A harsh sentence would confirm Sánchez's incapacity to resolve this question and would put the conflict in the international arena.

The Catalan case has only one possible solution: democracy. Members of the Spanish government have sometimes expressed the view that in Catalonia "it is not possible to vote" because there is a contentious situation.

And I wonder: aren't democracy and public opinion precisely useful to resolve political conflicts?

Author bio

Alfred Bosch is the Catalan minister for foreign affairs.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Catalonia celebrates national day ahead of trial verdicts

Catalonia celebrated on Wednesday its national day - while awaiting the trial verdict on 12 Catalan separatists, former politicians of Carles Puigdemont's government. That decision is expected for early October.

French MPs criticise Catalonia situation ahead of verdict

More than 50 French MPs have voiced their concerns about the situation in Catalonia. The acting Spanish minister for foreign affairs - and incoming EU foreign affairs chief - Josep Borrell has lamented "the ignorance about the reality of Spain".

Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin currently live outside Spain. They were prosecuted for the serious crimes, and they have fled justice. It is not possible to judge in absentia in Spain, where the justice system protects the rights of defendants.

Puigdemont to challenge ban on standing as MEP

Carles Puigdemont is set to take legal action to defend his rights as European Parliament candidate and for voters' right to cast a vote for him. He could go so far as to challenge the outcome of the May elections.

Why Europe must act now, and on a big scale

It is still very likely that Europe will face a new deadly spread of the virus next autumn or winter. Until a reliable vaccine and cure are in place, we all have to live in this new reality.

Coronavirus sees approval-rating soar for EU leaders

The rise in support for mainstream parties has been paired with stagnation or decline for far-right populist parties and figures - the AfD has dropped to 10 percent in Germany and Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini are treading water.

News in Brief

  1. Migrants trapped on boat in Tripoli due to shelling
  2. EU anti-crisis budget 'could be up to €1.5 trillion'
  3. Western Balkan states appeal for EU help with masks
  4. Spain's lockdown could be extended until 10 May
  5. IMF: Pandemic crisis will be worse than great depression
  6. German economy minister expects progress on EU deal
  7. Italian PM: EU is at risk if no deal on recovery plan
  8. Belgian region to block EU Green Deal

Coronavirus: A test of the West

We are experiencing the first global pandemic unfolding in the 24/7 news cycle and taking its toll, in real time, on our daily lives, our financial security and the global economy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. How the EU's virus-alert agency failed
  2. Flemish nationalists torpedo Belgium Green Deal pledge
  3. Eurozone agreed €500bn cushion against virus blow
  4. Why Europe must act now, and on a big scale
  5. EU court blocks Poland's bid to 'frighten' judges
  6. Coronavirus sees approval-rating soar for EU leaders
  7. EU science chief who 'quit' had been told to resign
  8. EU delays 'exit strategies' plan, as WHO urges caution

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us