The independence movement is disoriented, but it is not demobilized. The gloomy omens about attendance at the Catalan National Day demonstration have remained at no more than that, as prognoses, predictions or even desires. Because it has to be said in no uncertain terms: the call to independence movement supporters made by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) with the support of Òmnium and the AMI has been a success and the demonstration has been a great demonstration. And also an important march that leaves the Catalan government of Pere Aragonès and its president with an unambiguous message: independence or elections. The chants of "government, resignation" were a response to the absence of Aragonès from the march, but above all to the hostility with which the ERC party confronted the ANC to try and undermine the rally. Because never - at least since 2012 - has a demonstration on Catalonia's Diada found itself with so many elements against it: the main pro-independence party boycotting it and Catalan public broadcasters distancing themselves when they were not also trying to cool down the attendance. Operation demobilization, however, has been a real failure.
Everyone will have to take note that a strong impulse in favour of Catalan independence persists on the street, combined with a rebuke of the pro-independence parties which is no less strong. They will have to take note in Madrid but also in Barcelona. In the Zarzuela royal palace - "Out with the Bourbon!" chanted the demonstrators - and in the Moncloa government palace, as also in both Catalonia's Parliament and its government palace, in the newspapers of Madrid and likewise in the print press of Barcelona, in the employers' associations and also in the unions. The tacky propaganda does not pass the most basic litmus test; a lie repeated a thousand times does not become the truth. The failed dialogue table, the insipid agenda for reencounter, the inability to defend Autonomous Community competencies, the persistent fiscal plunder and the third-world level of infrastructures for trains that never arrive on time: all these continue to be mobilizing elements for claiming independence. Who has any confidence in a government like the Spanish one which is not even capable of making Barcelona commuter trains function and even when the minister responsible is Catalan?
It can be said that independentism needed a huge day like it had this Sunday to keep believing in itself, in its own strength. It showed that force throughout the day and demanded unity and action. It is clear that this was not the same mobilization of the strong years of the process, that winning cycle between 2012 and 2017 that sent the image of an independent Catalonia out to the world. But no one has the mobilizing capacity of the Catalan independence movement to win the support of the street and this remains an indisputable truth. It remains to be seen now how the smashed plates will be stuck back together within the pro-independence family and if there is a real will to mend all that is broken. President Aragonès should take the first step and receive the organizers of the demonstration in his office before the rift in the pro-independence world gets bigger. Because the solution is not a civic list, as the ANC claims, but rather that the new political cycle that Òmnium calls for to find the force for the long-awaited leap forward, with institutions and parties that will reverse the discouragement and disorientation.
It is something that is impossible without a new strategic framework that leaves behind all the formulas that have not worked over these last five years. The inevitable war of attendance numbers that already began this Sunday is not the best way forward. That debate should be left to those who aspire to a festive and folkloric Diada of September 11th, not a national day in which political demands are front and centre. Òmnium, seven months after its change of presidency, has set the stage for a new era. And it has done so with the will to lead and the ambition of a new framework. The pro-independence civil groups, from different points of view and with diametrically opposed proposals, are reading the moment better than the political parties. They are leaving the comfort zone while ERC, Junts and the CUP are busy fighting each other and they lack proposals that are not, each in their own way, empty ones.
This Sunday's demonstration has given the politicians a kick in the backside. That bothers them. This is normal, even if they don't like it. It's time to reconnect. There's everything to play for.