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Catalonia, the old nation of Europe with ambitions to be recognised as a new state of the European Union, has the opportunity this Thursday to revalidate the pro-independence majority in its Parliament at the ballot box and to slam the door shut on the darkest period in the history of democracy in Catalonia, which opened with the arbitrary application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution and which has dismasted all its institutions of self-government. The date with the ballot box is, as such, a vital question for the future. A before and an after in the history of the country. Just as the eyes of the international community were fixed on what the Catalan response would be on 1st October during the independence referendum, so will they be tomorrow during this momentous election day.

In an election, everyone has a lot at stake. But, above all, this 21st December, the pro-independence side and Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy have a lot to lose. One side's victory is the other's defeat and vice-versa. No middle ground. The calculator of election night will focus above all on one sum: are there 68 pro-independence deputies or not? One of the many special correspondents from the international media who has come to El Nacional over recent days to interview some member of staff or another and who will cover the election this Thursday posed me the following problem: will the independence movement be able to head in mass to the polls defying the campaign carried out by the Spanish state against its leaders or, on the other hand, could the repression they've carried out prove more powerful? Nobody has a certain response to this question, but what incentive is there to stay at home? Obviously none, since the storm clouds hanging over the future of the country will be black indeed if there's not a huge turnout.

The train of history has, therefore, a very important stop this 21st December. Catalonia is gambling the country it has been constructing for decades and, in some parts, for centuries. Education is at stake, healthcare is at stake, infrastructure is at stake, exports are at stake, culture is at stake, the language is at stake, its identity is at stake. There never again being a representative not elected by the Catalan people illegitimately usurp its shield and its institutions is at stake. Its dignity is at stake. Obviously its dignity at stake, or is having president Carles Puigdemont able to return from Brussels and vice-president Oriol Junqueras able to leave prison not defending the dignity of Catalonia?

The polls which haven't been able to be published in Spain due to the ban in election law reveal a scene in which it's sure that the ability to mobilise voters in the last hours will end up deciding the majority in the Parliament. No vote will be too much and all of them together can show that Catalonia hasn't been through a fad, as Madrid has repeatedly said. Rather that the resilience of the independence movement is made of a material that cannot be eliminated, since its able to resist in the face of any obstacle. And that, today, can only be shown at the ballot box.

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