There’s a decidedly odd election coming up, on a Thursday, just four days before Christmas, between seven parties, of which one is led by a man in exile in Belgium and another by a man in prison in Madrid. Three of the parties are for an independent republic; three evenly balanced against them are the ‘constitutionalist’ parties (with Ciudadanos leading the pack), and there’s the odd-one out – the local version of Podemos, which, as The Local says here, ‘...the likely kingmaker according to the polls will be En Comu, the alliance made up by far-left party Podemos and Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, which according to the CIS poll would capture nine seats. The party opposes independence but backs a legally binding referendum on secession which Spain's central government deems unconstitutional...’.
On Tuesday, the day campaigning officially started, Spain dropped the international arrest warrant against Puigdemont (but only to ratchet up the pressure against him with stronger charges at home). ‘Puigdemont está kaput’ said Rajoy during the celebrations of Constitution Day, Wednesday. Puigdemont is meanwhile campaigning via video feed from Brussels, and he asks those who are against the imprisonment of Catalonian political leaders to wear yellow. The ERC, whose candidate Oriol Junqueras remains in jail in Madrid, is represented in meetings by another leader of the party – one who was recently returned to freedom after 33 days – called Carles Mundó. On the other hand, the largest – in public support – of the three ‘constitutionalist’ parties is Ciudadanos, whose regional leader Inés Arrimadas could wind up being the next president of the Generalitat. Who would be the most ‘popular’ leader? Well if you asked the recent poll organised by El Español, it would be Puigdemont followed by Arrimades.
The Government in Madrid, meanwhile, is warning of some ill-defined ‘cyber-attack’ against the Constitutionalist vote.
Elections, then, on December 21st, and as The Guardian says ‘...The campaign must unfold freely, lawfully and peacefully and the outcome must be respected’.