Forward (Published in ARA, September 28th, 2015)

After a historic day on Sunday, Catalonia is no longer what it used to be and has chosen to become much more: to be itself. Despite the scaremongering, despite big media control, despite the constant denials from outside, this election has confirmed the desire of a vast majority for political transformation.

It’s true that the Yes vote did not reach 50% of the ballots tallied. But the No vote, especially the NO in big bold letters, which refuses to consult the nation and rejects any negotiation or any change, is a minority that cannot seek to block the will of the rest. Sandwiched between one side and the other, there is a segment –which includes CSQP (Catalonia Yes We Can), part of the official Unió party (UDC), and some PSC voters (Catalan Socialist Party)– committed to holding a referendum and probably willing to vote Yes in a mutually-agreed consultation.

To strengthen the Yes, the members of parliament from Together for Yes and the CUP, who received a mandate to begin the journey to independence, must invite this mass “in the middle” to define itself as regards the future political status of Catalonia –in accordance with the roadmap proposed by the CATN (Advisory Council for the National Transition). This invitation must be issued via a parliamentary declaration– which will serve to count who is For and who is Against with clarity– without the campaign’s ambiguities.

This declaration could include a reiteration of the request for a referendum. In this case, however, the proposal for holding a referendum must come with an expiration date. If the government of Spain turns it down within a six-month period (which includes the Spanish general elections), the only path left to us would be full sovereignty. I want to believe that at that moment the parties or MPs in the middle who have stated that they are for independence would not side with the No bloc, with the PP and Ciudadanos. To do so would mean signing off on their own disappearance in the not-too-distant future. (And if they were to abstain, their votes would be discounted and the Yes vote would rise to an outright majority.)

The road towards independence is before us, although at a slower pace than it would have with a majority of votes above 50%. Spain has gained a tiny window for recovering the initiative and offering a consultation. But they have run into extra time and this window of opportunity is closing rapidly. Europe is watching and they know this, and should be keen to persuade Madrid to adopt the British approach –to recognize Catalonia as a nation and create the conditions that would put an end to the instability and uncertainty of the past few years.

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