Cantus firmus

Now that it’s within our reach

A week ago I would have begun this article by recalling what José Zaragoza once told journalist Vicent Sanchis several years ago about the ease with which his party used to win the mayoral elections in Barcelona city, regardless of the candidate they picked: “we would win, even if a monkey stood for mayor”. That was what the PSC’s then secretary of organisation used to claim. My thesis would have been that, even in the most turbulent and uncertain scenario in terms of the pro-independence electoral offerings --that is, even if that odd “politician-free” civil list had been headed by a monkey, we should still have voted for it.

It has come as a huge relief, though, to know that a great accord has been reached, an agreement that dispels every uncertainty. In a nutshell, we won’t need to vote for a monkey. The list without politicians --a desperate move-- had the virtue of bringing everyone back to their senses because it presented no end of problems. Firstly, it was a superficial unity that screamed division. Secondly, any civil society candidate would have become a politician as soon as their name was added to the list and they would still have been classed --unfairly or not-- according to their alleged political bias. Thirdly, the day after the vote we would have entered a period of such parliamentary and governmental instability that the more lukewarm voters would have been put off. And, lastly, we would have put a rope around our necks again by setting a new date for another election without having any idea of what political framework a victory would have left us with on September 27, let alone a hypothetical defeat.

Naturally, the solution that has been agreed upon does not dispel every uncertainty because what we are about to do is so huge and it depends on so many factors beyond our control that we will only succeed if we are prepared to take a significant risk. This is a risk that cannot be faced with the attitude of those who generally expect others to behave like kamikazes. On the contrary, the utmost foresight, prudence and cunning will be required. There is no such thing as independence on the cheap (or low-cost, as they like to say nowadays). Still, the arrogance of compounding the existing risks is pointless. Rather, victory demands keeping risks in check.

From now on --there are only a few weeks left--, most of our energy will need to be expended on battling the aversion to risk of those who already know that independence is the only possible way to a better country but might be put off when the Spanish state resorts to intimidation tactics. This goal can be met in two ways. First, by keeping risks down to a bare minimum; that is, minimizing them by explaining what will happen and how we will go about it following the 27S election. Second, by exuding self-esteem, courage, hope, confidence and plenty of calm. Make no mistake: this is the one nation in the world that has best prepared its democratic path to independence.

We seem to have moved beyond the “I’d certainly like to, but it can’t be” phase, which --unwillingly-- used to undermine our own future. With only two months to go before the vote, we must leave behind the nagging question of whether we will make it or not. As we enter the last leg of the journey, we must put aside our uncertainty and act with the determination that victory is within our reach. With blind faith, then? Not at all: with the most reasoned firmness possible. For instance, by working out some figures. The electoral census on September 27 will consist of about 5.25 million Catalans who are eligible to vote. Assuming a high turnout, say 70 per cent, an absolute majority for independence will require 1,827,500 votes. And we know that on November 9 last year, in a participatory process riddled with practical hurdles --to do with voter identification, number of polling stations and ballot boxes and propaganda-- and without any legal or political consequences, 1,897,274 citizens showed their support for independence. If we wanted to be cocky about it, we could even claim that we had 60,000 votes too many! But, seriously, we need to ensure that all of them vote Yes again, and that those who had some practical difficulties to cast their vote, this time don’t. And that they are joined by those who failed to see the relevance of that first challenge to the State in November last year. And, obviously, we must bring along those who are ultimately persuaded by Madrid’s further provocations and eventually realise that there is no other way. We might get over two million ballots and the support of 55 per cent of all voters.

Do not be fooled: we won’t get to September 27 without a single scratch. Now that we have stopped bickering among ourselves, we need to face up to our opponents. But what a beautiful demonstration of democratic strength we will give to the world! What a lesson of commitment to the welfare of our children and their children, and of loyalty to those who preceded us in the combat for the dignity of our nation!