For a second consecutive time, Catalonia will vote in an election with candidates in prison and in exile. The first time was the already distant 21st December 2017, with Catalonia's institutions of self-government suspended as a result of article 155 of the Constitution. Now, sixteen months later, a similar situation is happening again and, in this campaign which officially started at midnight this Friday, it would be a good idea to not normalise this situation and have it fall into routine or oblivion. Candidates to the Congress and Senate from pro-independence parties are fighting the Spanish general election from a position of clear inequality since, firstly, they are unjustly imprisoned and cannot return to Catalonia with their freedom guaranteed and, secondly, they cannot run a normal election campaign unlike their political adversaries who do enjoy a fully normalised situation.
The Spanish state's repression and the decisions by the Central Electoral Board, the Supreme Court and the Interior Ministry have so far closed up any crack which would have allowed the prisoners a minimum level of participation: from temporary release to candidate debates held in the prison; from campaign rallies in jail to radio and TV stations recording interviews. Nothing at all. Just interviews by writing with the questions in advance. It's a way of dehumanising the prisoners, who are only visible to us when they're in the dock in the trial being held in the Supreme Court.
This unjust situation should mobilise the independence movement to head to the polls. It's not a normal election and turnout shouldn't be normal either. In the same way that unionists perfectly understood the great importance of the Catalan election on 21st December 2017 and fought with the independence movement for the victory, this time there's a challenge of a similar type in reverse: to mobilise the pro-independence vote as never before, beyond its wish, or the lack thereof, to fight a Spanish election. Because, in the end, what will count will be the seats won and on which side the deputies and senators fall.
It's very normal and natural for the Spanish left to flourish the factor of the arrival of the right to the Spanish government to bring together as many votes as possible. PSOE is shamelessly playing this card and as a result of that their electoral hopes are, for the moment, clearly on the up. But the Catalan independence movement needs to be strong and, if possible, decisive in Madrid if it wants to play the card of agreeing on a referendum, something which today is a complete pipe-dream.