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What point are we at? Depending on how that question is answered, the conclusions arising from it will be of one type or another type. I will give you my opinion. From what we have seen, on 27th October the Catalan government made an immense leap into the void. The government proclaimed the Republic and then did nothing to defend it. On the contrary, the government of Catalonia, warned by whoever it was, decided to disappear and since then some have been in prison and the rest in exile. As well, it became evident that the much-vaunted "structures of state", the real ones, those that were connected to tax collection and public security, did not exist. I'm not accusing anyone. I am only pointing out what everyone has been able to see. Without money or police, there is no independence worth a dime. They didn't do the homework they had to do, and whether that was because it was impossible, or because they lacked the nous required, it's all the same now.

Thus, since 27th September, it has been obvious that the independence movement, which until that moment had taken the initiative, has now gone onto the back foot. Catalonia is without a government, the managers that have arrived from Madrid are exercising an inglorious control of the Catalan administrations, while judicial repression, in clear violation of political rights, has put the legitimate government of this country in jail, including the presiding Board of the Catalan Parliament. However, as the internationalisation of the conflict has put a spotlight on the actions of the Spanish government, the unionist block has had to call elections very hurriedly. So, on 21st December we are called to the polls, in elections which Catalonia faces as a Spanish autonomous region, elections which Spanish PM Rajoy and his allies have converted into a plebiscite. 

Everyone knows this. The Catalan Socialists (PSC) have understood it well and have sought an alliance with the followers of Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, former leader of the conservative Catalan party Unió, and the man who was the Nemesis of the socialists for years. The goal being, to go back to where Catalonia was politically located up till 2006. Because - let's not fool ourselves - both the PSC in the period after this, led by José Montilla, and the Christian democrats of Unió, were opposed to the Catalan plan for a new, wider Statute of Autonomy, which the PSC itself had helped launched in its pre-2006 incarnation, under Pasqual Maragall. Therefore, with the Popular Party (PP) and the Citizens party (Cs) representing the most fiercely Spanish-nationalist wing of unionism, the socialist candidature now has the closest possible resemblance to the Regime of '78, the regime of the Spanish constitution. It smells like mothballs. But that has been one of the great changes they have undergone during the long decade we have spent in this process to reach the sovereignty, not independence, of Catalonia: that the PSC today resembles its namesake party of 1977 as much as an egg resembles an artichoke. Now, the Catalan Socialists of the PSC have become more like the Spanish Socialists of the PSOE party then ever. 

On the other hand, we have now seen what the leftist Catalonia in Common party stands for. It is reproducing the vices of the Spanish left that were seen in the Initiative for Catalonia-Greens (ICV) grouping that it partially emerged from. All of its politics in Catalonia, except for the strictly municipal, are affected by the parent grouping that it aspires to influence in Madrid. That was what destroyed the Catalan communist party, the PSUC, another of this group's ancestors, as the older ones among us will remember. But right now we are seeing the same thing again, with the coup carried out by Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias to take control of this party's Catalan wing Podem from Albano-Dante Fachin. As Fachin himself diagnosed the day he walked out of the party he helped to found, the events of Catalonia have caused the so-called new left of Podemos to get old very quickly. The Spanish nationalist status quo has taken them over.

The independence movement has to compete electorally with all this. We are now longer in 2014, the year of the first, unofficial independence poll. A lot has happened and to a certain extent we are in a worse position, because, despite the mobilization of the Catalan people on a massive scale, the Spanish state and its allies, of which there are many, have generated an atmosphere of hate against the sovereignist Catalans which is incomparable to anything we have seen since the Balkan wars. The persecution is on land, sea and air, and that is in spite of the fact that president Puigdemont and four of his ministers have been able to find refuge in Belgian thanks to the Flemish complicity. There are those who want to take a very philosophical line about "processism" and the fraud carried out by the Puigdemont current government in terms of the referendum and the structures of state. Those people should not be listened to, because they are in general people who are far from having a day-to-day commitment, they are the people who offer recipes that could send politicians to jail, while they sit happily smoking cigars or wandering the cloisters of universities. There is no shortage of living room revolutionaries. I don't want to be any more critical than that because these people also vote and they should vote for a joint list, a joint candidature of all parties, which is the only chance the independence movement has to win back the initiative.      

The elections of 21st December are just around the corner and the traditional Catalan parties have done what they always do, which is to accuse one another of actions that none of them would contemplate themselves. Putting your own party first is unpatriotic, I believe. Postponing the moment that decisions are taken doesn't help either. And so we now find that after the unity demonstrated on October 1st and October 27th, in particular the latter when the three pro-independence parties voted together to proclaim the Republic, it turns that they are not capable of agreeing on a joint candidature to defend that Republic, to demand the withdrawl of article 155, to require the freeing of the Catalan prisoners and the return of those in exile. Is there anyone who thinks that the 21st December will be all about whether we want to be governed by the yellows or the blues? This is about defending democracy, and that requires a joint candidature and the formation of a broad democratic pro-republican front which will go beyond the traditional pro-independence parties and, obviously, beyond the Together for Yes coalition of the current legislature. And in this front, there must be space for the Christian right of Antoni Castellà and equally for the federalist left of Albano-Dante Fachin and in between, everyone else, starting with president Puigdemont, the legitimate representative of the government of Catalonia.

The thing is, do we have to accept article 155? Would anyone find it acceptable if the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) won the elections, as the polls suggest they will, and a government presided by, say, Marta Rovira, substituted that of Carles Puigdemont as if nothing abnormal had happened? I don't believe that the people who have filled the streets and squares defending the legitimate government would understand. The people want unity. And the proof is that the initiative  which a small group of people set in motion last week has already attracted half a million signatures. If they were votes, it would make an impact. Journalists make up stories to explain the origin of this proposal, which has now merged into another initiative linked with Catalan National Assembly circles and specifically with its leader Jordi Sánchez. The tweet by president Carlos Puigdemont in favour of a joint list set off speculation, especially when the next day, the Catalan European Democrat Party (PDeCAT) tried to give the impression that it was moving on the same lines. Nothing further from the truth, but since the PDeCAT is right now a party without leader, candidate or programme, it could have seemed that this list would help them to get out of the quagmire.

Translation: It is the time for all democrats to unite. For Catalonia, for the freedom of the political prisoners and for the Republic.  - Carles Puigdemont 

The joint list is an initiative from people without a party, like the majority of Catalans, who desire to take back this country's institutions, get the prisoners back from the prisons, and return to the struggle for independence through a constitutent process. It requires everyone to be generous and disciplined at the same time. It means avoiding recriminations, apart from those that are normal, even necessary, between people who don't believe in unanimity. The triumph of a joint list would be the greatest lesson that the sovereignist movement could give to the world and to the unionists. Let's not fight among ourselves. Let's not abandon the civil and political leaders who have risked everything to get to this point. Let's not allow the independence movement to kill the Republic before it has taken to the air. Bringing voters together is the last opportunity to avoid defeating ourselves. President Carles Puigdemont has said, on Twitter, that he is prepared to lead a joint list. Until 17th November we have time to reach agreement. 

Translation: It is time to defend the country. I am prepared to head the joint list for December 21st created by the voters' grouping.  - Carles Puigdemont