Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spanish election results confirm “Catalonia is not Spain”

The Catalan language newspaper, El Punt Avui proclaims in English that “Catalonia is not Spain” this morning, in an attempt at explaining how the Catalan conservative party CiU managed to stem the blue tide of the rightist Spanish Popular Party that swept through most of the rest of Spain. The slogan in English, usually used by protesters at international events to bring attention to the ongoing struggle for more autonomy in Catalonia, neatly sums up the election results: the rightist Partido Popular swept the ruling PSOE party out of office in a stunning defeat, but were unable to make inroads in Catalonia, where the Catalanist though perhaps equally conservative CiU party took the region for the first time ever in general Spanish elections.

What the slogan doesn’t explain to outsiders is why Catalonia is so different, and how the PP could have had such lackluster results there while sweeping every other part of Spain except the Basque Country, as shown in the map to the right.

The answer is that elections in Catalonia, especially “general elections” in which the seats in the Spanish Parliament are chosen, have various axes, not only right vs left, but Catalanist vs Spainist, for want of better terms. The important leftist parties in Spain have local affiliates in Catalonia that are mostly seen as hewing to the centralist party line. They tend to win country-wide elections and lose local ones. The right in Catalonia, however, is divided between the local affiliate of the Spanish Popular Party—whose francoist roots make it a particularly hard sell in Catalonia—and the completely homegrown CiU, whose wildly popular leader, Jordi Pujol was president of the Catalan Parliament for 23 years between 1980 and 2003, and with these results completed the trifecta after already having triumphed in recent municipal and Catalonia-wide elections.

It seems unsurprising that Catalans would want to kick the Socialists out, but would choose to do so without running into the arms of the PP, whose party was behind the recent trampling of Catalonia’s new Statute of Autonomy, as well as attacks on the successful and popular Catalan-immersive educational system.

CiU clenched the deal with a big promise: they will demand a “fiscal pact” with Madrid, and if rebuffed, will demand political independence. Catalonia currently pays some 10% more in taxes than they receive in services from the central government, and the current fiscal crisis is fueling resentment in Catalonia. Catalans see brand new schools, free highways, and high speed trains in sparsely populated areas of Spain while being forced to make substantial cuts in medical, educational, and transportation services of their own.

As Salvador Cardús put it in What Catalans Want, “We live in a situation in which we are denied the guarantee that our daily work will contribute in any way to our prosperity.”

It’s important to remember that Duran i Lleida, CiU’s candidate, is more unionist than separatist, despite convenient rhetoric to the contrary. Last night he said, “Catalonia is different from the rest of the country. Today, these results confirm more than ever that we are a nation.”

It will be interesting to watch these next few months

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jordi Pujol and Salvador Giner to present “What Catalans Want” July 21, 8pm

We would like to invite you to attend the presentation of the book, “What Catalans Want”, a brand new collection of interviews of important Catalan personalities, written in English by Toni Strubell, and accompanied by striking full-color photographs by Lluís Brunet and a prologue by Irish writer Colm Tóibín. We believe it is an important tool in helping the wider international community understand what is going on here in Catalonia.

The book aims to raise awareness of the Catalan national reality at a time of political and economic crisis and as the demand for an independent Catalonia is shared by an increasing proportion of the population. According to the latest opinion poll, over 42% of Catalans would vote in favour of the Independence of the Catalan nation.

The book will be introduced by the former President of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, and by Salvador Giner, director of the Institute for Catalan Studies. We will also hear from Professor Joan Ramon Resina (Head of the Department of Hispanic Studies at Stanford University, USA), and Professor Henry Ettinghausen (Emeritus of Southampton University, UK), as well as Toni Strubell himself, and Liz Castro, the publisher.

The presentation will take place at 8pm in the central courtyard of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, C. Carme 47, in Barcelona. At the presentation we will also be honoured with the presence of Consuls Generals from several countries based in Barcelona, representatives from several international news agencies who have shown interest in this book’s launch, and many dignitaries, academics, and politicians.

We would very much like you to be present at the event which is intended to offer new insights into the Catalan political panorama.

Day: Thursday 21 July 2011
Time: 8pm
Place: Courtyard of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Carrer del Carme, 47, Barcelona

The book will be available in color and black and white printed editions as well as digital formats throughout Catalonia and the rest of Europe, the UK, the US and the rest of the world. For more information, see “What Catalans Want”.

If you need any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Courtyard of the Institute of Catalan Studies

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Moritz to help toast Toni Strubell’s new “What Catalans Want”


The Catalan beer company, Moritz, has graciously offered to bring their popular beer to toast the presentation of Toni Strubell and Lluís Brunet’s new book of interviews of prominent Catalan personalities, “What Catalans Want”, July 21, 2011 at 8pm, at the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (Carrer del Carme, 47, Barcelona).

Moritz has been in the news lately with its campaign to give a beer to each member of the European Parliament to protest its recent vote to maintain the rule that all labeling must be in at least one official EU language. In Catalonia, that means Catalan-only labels may not be allowed, since the EU has refused to make Catalan official, despite being the language of more than 7 million people.

We salute Moritz for its efforts and look forward to drinking that beer!

If you’d like to attend the presentation of “What Catalans Want”, please RSVP to lluisbrunet@lluisbrunet.cat

Friday, June 25, 2010

What Catalans Want

Catalonia Press is thrilled to announce the publication of “What Catalans Want”, a gorgeous full-color collection of interviews in English by Toni Strubell accompanied by striking photographs by Lluís Brunet, with a poignant prologue by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín. The book takes a close look at Catalonia at a time when the country’s political future as a Spanish autonomous region is being seriously questioned for the first time since it came into being in 1980.

“What Catalans Want” contains interviews of more than 30 representative Catalan personalities in various key areas of public life. The book’s aim is to discover why so many Catalans feel as uncomfortable about continuing to form part of Spain as they feel enthused about being full independent members of the European Union. Could the Catalan question—fanned by ongoing Spanish political, economic, and cultural oppression—be welling up into a political issue on the same order as Scotland’s?

The book delves into this essential question by concentrating on what matters most: the opinion of those affected, from the presidents of Catalonia and FC Barcelona, professors of economics and communications, business professionals and community leaders, writers, journalists, and historians, and many more. This book appears at a time when the current crisis has destroyed the country’s traditional image as an “oasis” of satisfaction, enjoying what was seen as an “ample” margin of autonomy and economic welfare. Instead, independent polls now reveal that more than 40% of Catalans would vote in favor of an independent Catalan state, in large part for economic reasons. The book also explores the recent unofficial independentist polls that were held in over 500 municipalities in which over 90% of the participants voted for independence.

Why have things come to a head? And why do most foreign tourists visiting the country have so little idea what is going on? “What Catalans Want” aims to answer the first question while obviating the need for the second.

Catalonia Press has produced both full color (978-1-61150-009-7) and black and white (978-1-61150-011-0) editions of “What Catalans Want”, as well as EPUB (978-1-61150-012-7) and Kindle (978-1-61150-013-4) electronic editions of the book. For more information or press packages, see http://www.cataloniapress.com or contact Liz Castro at info@cataloniapress.com

You can buy the color print edition ($40) from Amazon US, Amazon UK, and any other bookseller. Give them the ISBN (above) to order.

The more economical black and white edition ($20) is available on Amazon US | Amazon UK).

You can buy the Kindle edition ($8) from Amazon.

The book is also available from the Apple iBookstore for iPad/iPod/iPhone.

You can get all three electronic editions ($8) at once directly from Catalonia Press.

You can download a free sample of the book from Catalonia Press.