At the same time, Sànchez, as general secretary of Junts per Catalunya, leads the liberal-conservative separatist party in the regional election on Sunday. Sànchez is outdoors during the day and at the weekend. He then appears on marketplaces and stages, promoting the top candidate Laura Borràs. The party needs him as a symbolic figure.
The campaign by Sànchez and his fellow campaigners presented Spain with a historic ordeal. On October 1, 2017, the Catalans voted in a referendum on independence, illegally if you will. The constitutional court had banned the vote. Regional President Carles Puigdemont proclaimed the republic and suspended the declaration seconds later. His speech was the culmination of a conflict that had shaped an entire decade: thousands of people cried for joy in the streets of Barcelona, others sat at home stunned and terrified.
Separatists in crisis
Before the regional elections on Sunday, the Catalan nationalists are therefore in a crisis. The unsuccessful struggle for a republic of its own has worn down the supporters. Only 44.5 percent of Catalans are currently in favor of their own state. Many of them are frustrated because their leaders promised quick independence for years – and then didn’t deliver.
The vote on Sunday is therefore pointing the way. The party that prevails on Sunday will want to determine the course for the next few years. In essence, it is about one question: Are the separatists de-escalating in the conflict with Madrid – or are they starting again?
Jordi Sànchez smiles when asked about the rallies. “To this day, people stop me on the street and break into tears,” he says. The prison sentences for him and his fellow activists would have caused collective pain.
If the radicals prevail, they would divide society even more
The independence movement uses the prison sentences of its leaders to mobilize its supporters. But in the middle of the pandemic, there are hardly more than a handful of people together, the exhaustion was already noticeable in the months before. Leading separatists fear that the protest could collapse if the left-wing government in Madrid pardons the prisoners. “Politically, that would be pretty bad for the movement,” they say.
Jordi Sànchez thinks the ERC’s calculation is nonsense. “ The Spanish state would not give in even if 70 percent of the Catalans are for independence,” he said in the party headquarters. In essence, his strategy is therefore the same as it was four years ago: through peaceful protest and civil disobedience, he wants to increase the pressure on the central state step by step, knowing full well that every form of state repression helps the separatists.
Molina therefore believes it is possible that Jordi Sànchez’s party could get as many votes as the ERC on Sunday. A few weeks ago that seemed unthinkable. Sànchez himself is convinced that this will happen. He wants to go to the theater again on Saturday – and return to prison on Monday as the winner of the election.
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Catalonia election split separatists dispute directions