Politics 27/01/2021

Parties now propose citizens stay put and only candidates move around during campaign

This is a recommendation, since the right to political participation is an exception to the local lockdown

3 min
JxCat presenting its candidacy for Girona on Tuesday

The first controversy of the election campaign for the 14 February elections has erupted even before the campaign has started. As the ARA published on Tuesday, the restrictions applied to the mobility of citizens do not affect attendance at rallies and citizens can leave their respective municipalities to attend political events. This fact, however, has generated controversy and, given this situation, the parties are now proposing that only elected candidates move and will recommend that no one leave their town or city to attend a political event in person. Now, this can only be a recommendation: limiting citizens' right to political participation is not something the current state of alarm allows.

How come is it possible to go to rallies in the middle of municipal confinement? Well, because one of the exceptions foreseen in the lockdown decree is the exercise of the "right of demonstration and political participation", present in the Generalitat's "self-responsible declaration". This has generated the complaint of some of the sectors hit hardest by the crisis, such as healthcare and the cultural and hospitality industry, which consider that political participation is not a justified exemption. Thus, in the face of the wave of indignation - amplified by social media - the parties have changed their minds.

One of the first to do so has been JxCat, which has issued a statement recommending that citizens "do not break the municipal confinement" and "only attend political events held in their municipality". Even so, the candidacy of Laura Borràs has defended that this exception was included when the restrictions were designed. "It is not a discretionary decision, but the recognition of a fundamental right", they have argued.

ERC has also reacted in a similar direction. Its candidate and acting vice-president of the Government, Pere Aragonès, has explained this Wednesday in an interview to La Xarxa that he will propose to the rest of the parties to assume a shared commitment to limit "the rallies to the people of the municipality". The ERC leader explained that the Generalitat cannot force it, but that what it would be is that all parties apply it "by common sense". The socialists have also made a move. First, they accused the Government of "irresponsibility" for allowing exceptions to the lockdown to attend rallies despite the fact that this has always been the case. Secondly, they assured that all campaign events will be online and that only candidates and speakers will be there in person.

Before the first great controversy of campaign En Comú announced that, in their events, there would be no public. "Our events will be 100% online, without an audience in person. You can follow us from home. Only candidates and speakers will be there," explained the candidate, Jéssica Albiach. The CUP has also made an appeal this Wednesday so that "no one moves from one town to another" to go to a meeting

The PDECat candidate, Àngels Chacón, who in a press conference has accused the Government of generating "chaos" and making a mockery of the process by allowing people to leave town for political events. "Do they think people are stupid?" she asked at a press conference, and showed understanding for "the anger". In her opinion, this is a "contradiction" with respect to the other measures in force and has accused the executive of acting with "electioneering criteria". In this sense, she has proposed that only the candidates are those who move around the territory - she has pledged to do the bare minimum in-person events - based on lockdown exceptions for work rather than political participation. "We are working," said Chacón

The PP, however, has directly accused the Government of lying when endorsing mobility between municipalities to attend electoral events. According to the candidate and president of the Catalan PP, Alejandro Fernandez, the agreement reached by political parties prohibited this type of travel. "The protocol expressly excludes that the domiciliary confinement can be skipped to attend political events", has assured in a conference in Intermèdia Comunicació from the Boqueria. In this sense, he has accused the spokeswoman of the Government, Meritxell Budó, of generating "confusion and sensation of alarm" and has come to say that she should resign. However, Fernández ignored that the Generalitat's "self-responsible declaration" considers political events an exception to local lockdowns. Be that as it may, Fernandez has assured that the PP will shun any act that "breaches the measures" against covid.

Meeting between parties on Thursday

Attendance or non-attendance at rallies is one of the issues to be discussed this Thursday ata new meeting between the parties, in which the Generalitat and political parties with representation in Parliament will debate the measures that will be applied to the elections of 14-F, the first in Catalonia with pandemic. Sources of the Generalitat explain that this will be the main issue.