This is still a time of suffering and hardship for many in Catalonia but, nevertheless, our nation is also living in a time of hope. We are approaching the last phase of an independence process that will also mark the start of a constituent process. Both point in the same direction: a change towards a new country. Support for independence, left-wing politics and the movements for democratic regeneration are the three engines that drive Catalonia in that direction. In fact, the bulk of Catalan society is gathered at the crossroads of all three. It is the space where social liberalism, the transformative left and social democracy meet, where the goals of independence, social justice and democratic regeneration intersect. This is a space full of good people, who are suffering and crying out to regain control over their country, their governments and --ultimately-- their lives.
That is why I think it is crucial for Catalans to have the chance to embrace the possibility of change in all three areas, so that this option may become hegemonic during the electoral cycle that begins with the plebiscitary, constituent elections to be held on September 27. It is my view that ERC should play a central role in this Alliance for the Catalan Republic, even though this alliance should go beyond partisan politics and political labels, and be based only on a shared commitment to build a country that is fair, free and fully democratic, and on the will to establish broad-based agreements on this commitment. In my opinion, such a commitment should include the following basic policies:
1. Independence, Republic and a constituent process. Unwavering commitment to Catalan independence within the framework of a joint effort with the rest of pro-independence forces, so that the emerging constituent process will be wholly participative. This constituent process must lead to the birth of an independent Republic where all citizens have true participative power that complements and monitors the representative institutions.
2. Zero tolerance for corruption and fraud. Complete transparency of the budget and resources allocated to the Alliance. Candidates must be immaculately clean and must adhere to a stringent ethical code of conduct. The fight against corruption and fraud must be strengthened by: (1) ensuring that crimes of corruption do not prescribe; (2) ensuring that anyone found guilty of corruption covers liabilities with their own assets; and (3) increasing the resources spent on fighting tax fraud so that we meet the standards set by the EU15.
3. Fighting unemployment, poverty, inequality, school failure and precarity. Only by guaranteeing dignity can anyone’s life be lived freely and responsibly. Therefore, the government of the Republic will need to: (1) encourage the creation of wealth, jobs and opportunities; (2) guarantee a number of basic living standards for everyone (energy, nourishment, housing, etc); (3) gradually bring up investment in public health care to the average levels of EU15; (4) set up a new model of labour relations, inspired by the best Nordic models, that combines the principles of flexibility, security, joint management and gender equality; (4) prioritise education from ages 0 to 3 (which yields the most equal opportunities) while ensuring gradual access to public nursery schools for everyone; and (5) guarantee the right to quality vocational training and public universities.
4. Efficient, sustainable development. The Republic’s prosperity will depend on entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability, as well as on the rational planning of infrastructures and the territory. To that effect, we will require: (1) an enterprising State that invests in innovation while ensuring a favourable return to the common wealth; (2) the Mediterranean railway corridor; (3) facilitating self-employment and entrepreneurship, putting and end to the current fiscal chokehold on the self-employed and entrepreneurs, and getting rid of the red tape that gets in the way of setting up new businesses; (4) devoting no more resources to projects based on exploiting cheap labour, speculation, legal loopholes and the destruction of the territory, such as Eurovegas and BCNWorld; and (5) putting an end to the privileges of large firms (such as those in the energy sector) that, for decades, have lived off Spanish government policies.
5. A cohesive, plural, secularist Republic. The Republic must protect the freedom of worship and ensure that believers of all faiths have the same rights as non-believers. In addition, the Republic will need to banish xenophobia and promote the integration of immigrants. In that regard, the role of Catalan as the common language of the people must become one of the Republic’s foundations, whilst ensuring that other widely-used languages, such as Spanish, are also recognised.
There is no doubt in my mind that a wide majority of Catalonia’s society shares these ideas, as well as the time-honoured values that they are based upon: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. These values do not stem from any ideology in particular nor from a specific political party, but from fraternal love for people and among people. To love a country is, essentially, to love its people. This majority must organise itself and stick together in the crucial years coming up. The challenges we face are huge and every single fraternal hand will be needed when the time comes to push ahead. The Alliance that I am arguing for must be the backbone of broad agreements among all the forces that seek a change in Catalonia. That’s why, between now and September 27 (and beyond) I shall strive to build such an Alliance and to ensure that it succeeds: the birth of a new country, free, fair and fully democratic. The Catalan Republic for which so many of our compatriots, brothers and sisters have fought for generations and that, at last, is within our reach.