Weblog Gerber van der Graaf

Hieronder vind je de weblog van Gerber van der Graaf, ingenieur. Hij woont al een jaar of 22 in Catalonië en houdt sinds juni 2017 een weblog bij met beschouwingen over de politieke situatie - met name de vervolging van de Catalaanse politici. Met zijn goedvinden is dit artikel geïntegreerd in deze website, maar kan uiteraard ook ‘los’ worden bekeken.

Some anomalies of the Catalan election campaign

6 mei 2024

(870 words)

Announcement Election
Almost unexpectedly for everyone, Catalan President Pere Aragonés announced early elections on March 13 for the legally shortest possible term, next May 12. The immediate cause was the failed negotiations on the annual budget with the socialist PSC party led by opposition leader Salvador Illa. After Aragonés and his ERC party broke the government coalition with the other Catalan independence parties (Junts and CUP), they no longer wanted to negotiate. Since the break with Junts and CUP last fall, Aragonés formed a minority government with the support of his 33 party colleagues from the 135 deputies in the Catalan Parliament. Ultimately, this minority broke him and he could no longer rule.

That same day, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez decided to suspend negotiations with the Catalan political parties in the Congress of Deputies, ERC and Junts, on the annual budget and extended last year’s budget. He believes these elections are too important to interfere with budget negotiations, he said. That was not the case when elections were recently held in Euskadi (Basque Country) and in Galicia. The Catalan political conflict apparently does not sit well with Madrid. Given the speed of Sánchez’s response, it is clear that he had been informed in advance by Aragonés about the early elections.

Two weeks before the elections, on the first day of the election campaign, Sánchez suspends his government office for 5 days to consider whether he will resign as Prime Minister. As a reason for this he mentions the accusation against his wife for conflict of interest and fraud. However, the accusation of the ultra-right movement Manos Limpias is based on false information from a newspaper. Sánchez accuses the Spanish media, his political opponents and the judiciary of conspiring against him. His particularly unusual decision made the international press. After keeping Spain in limbo for five days, Sánchez announces he will stay in office and continues to govern as if nothing had happened. He takes no action whatsoever, not even a complaint against the lawfare and false accusations he claims to be the victim of. With his complaint about lawfare against him and his wife, the Spanish president confirms what Catalans have experienced already for a long time, namely that the judiciary interferes in politics and Spain is therefore not a full-fledged democracy. The same evening he was interviewed by the public RTVE about his decision. His action has increased support for him and his PSOE party in Spain, including the PSC branch in Catalonia. And that was probably the reason why he decided to resign temporarly. It is quite obvious that Sánchez abuses his office as Prime Minister and public resources to influence the elections in Catalonia in favor of the PSC party and its leader Illa. The Electoral Commission, more about that later, does not intervene after ERC filed a complaint.

Support of unions
At the election meeting, the socialists receive the support of the UGT and CCOO unions. An unusual phenomenon in Western democracies. Typically, unions do not get involved in party politics. The trade unions in Spain are regularly subsidized by the central government.

The union leader at the Seat factory in Barcelona and also a member of the global council of the Volkswagen Audi Group, is on the list of the socialist party PSC as an honorary candidate. He gives a speech to a packed audience where he insults Puigdemont with: “He left crying in the trunk, and I don’t know if he pooped or pissed, but he fled to Brussels,” referring to his exile as a result of the political persecution. The audience claps and presidential candidate Illa shakes his hand warmly.

Historically, trade unions worldwide have always suffered from persecutions of conscience. It is therefore particularly strange that a trade union leader is agitating against a political dissident like Puigdemont. Later, the campaign spokeswoman said, “If anyone feels offended, we apologize.” The excuse does not sound very convincing.

Electoral Commission
The Electoral Commission is, once again, censoring the Catalan public broadcaster by banning the use of terms such as “exiles” and “political persecutions” under penalty of a fine. After Puigdemont and other politicians emigrated abroad in October 2017, the Electoral Commission also censored broadcasters in the run-up to the December 21, 2017 elections imposed by Spanish President Rajoy.

In addition, during the election campaign, she bans the protest demonstration in Barcelona against the presence of the Policia Nacional headquarters on Via Laietana. Since the Franco regime and to this day, this police station has been a center of torture practices. The protest demonstration, which is held weekly by the ANC, has nothing to do with political party interests, and therefore with elections. The police headquarters is considered by Catalans as a symbol of the Spanish occupation and oppression in Catalonia. Apparently certain political opinions do bother the Electoral Commission.

Campaign from France
Even though Germany, Belgium and Italy did not want to extradite Puigdemont to Spain and he enjoys legal immunity as a MEP, there is an arrest warrant for him in Spain. Those who want to hear Puigdemont must therefore travel to Argelers, France, to attend an election meeting of him and his Junts+ party. The contrast with President Sánchez’s support at the PSC election rallies taking place in all corners of Catalonia is poignant.

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