The last day of the Catalan electoral campaign required, by tradition, an epic finale, to definitively dispatch the electorate to cast their votes. To compensate for the forced emptiness of rallies in this atypical pandemic-struck campaign, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) brought all its artillery on to the stage of the Cotxeres de Sants in Barcelona. In addition to the candidate, all the prisoners and exiles of the pro-independence party participated: Marta Rovira, Meritxell Serret, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Raül Romeva and Oriol Junqueras. The message was that the pro-independence vote must be concentrated in ERC "to prevent the dictatorship of 155 from winning", but also to ensure that the exit from the crisis is led by a president who is not only pro-independence, but also progressive and left-wing. Candidate Pere Aragonès summed it up with a plea, "that no pro-independence or left-wing vote must stay at home."
Thanks to the restoration of the jailed politicians' Level 3 prison leave rights, ERC have had their joker to play from the first to the last day of the campaign: that Oriol Junqueras's presence has been a massive reinforcement is obvious. It remains to be seen whether it will have been enough to achieve the goal of convincing apathetic or irate voters not to stay home on Sunday as well as to seduce those doubting between ERC and some other party. “We are the ones who never get tired, or give up, or walk away, and are always standing in the fight,” shouted the man who was vice president at the time of the referendum. “If we haven’t given up, while in prison, there's less reason for you to surrender at the polls,” he argued.
Aragonés took over by promising "a republic for all", emphasizing ERC's desire to present its pro-independence programme as an inclusive project which, as its slogan states, has to be At the people's side, empowering left-wing policies, working “for quality public schools and hospitals” and not for “perpetuating models that privatize”.
Putting on his hat as an historian, Junqueras looked in the rearview mirror to stand up for the role of ERC throughout Catalan history and remind voters that this was the party that "led the Republic on April 14th, 1931, which defended the streets of Barcelona on July 19th, 1936, fought against Nazism and fascism in Europe and continued to defend independence when no one was defending it ", even when it was "the only party outlawed by the regime of 1978".
For the PSC: nothing
Not even after repeating the message to the point of saturation, not even after leaving it as a signed written declaration, the Republican Left has failed to fully cancel the stigma of the "tripartite". Brandishing the shadow of an ERC pact with the Catalan Socialists - a coalition which ruled Catalonia in the first decade of this century - is one of the main weapons that rival party Junts has used to undermine the confidence of the ERC electorate.
Once again, Aragonés came out to reject this accusation. "We are people of our word, we say it and we do it and we repeat the same thing." And, without mentioning them by name, he threw the least subtle barb of the night at the members of Junts per Cat: "Not only do we not have any cases of corruption but we have not changed our name either."
He also warned Salvador Illa, who has invited Catalans to turn a page from their recent past, that "nothing has finished here", that "this people will continue the fight for their liberty". Junqueras put it another way: that ERC will continue "in permanent campaign" until independence.
Call after call
Junqueras's role in his party's campaign has gone far beyond the time in the spotlight. From the first day he walked out of the door of Lledoners prison, the ERC president has rolled up his sleeves and sat down with the telephone. He has made hundreds of calls to voters.
The ERC leader has adapted the traditional door-to-door strategy to the context of a pandemic, taking advantage of every time-out to get on the phone. Junqueras has set out to look for the undecided voters through phone calls, calling random numbers to persuade those who are still unclear on the option they should choose this Sunday. Today alone he contacted about fifty people.
In parallel, this Friday, Junqueras, Rovira and Aragonés published a letter addressed to the many who are still undecided, around 30% of voters according to the polls. The ERC leadership understands that this group has the key to tipping the electoral scales towards one of the three parties that, according to all polls, could win: ERC, Junts or PSC.