“The struggle for independence is a manoeuvre by Catalan elites to cover up their corruption”

False.

The struggle for independence has been pushed by mobilisation from below and by Catalan civil society organisations.

It became a massive movement in 2010, in response to Madrid’s blocking of the 2006 Statute of Autonomy that was promoted by the then Socialist President, Pasqual Maragall, governing in coalition with Esquerra Republicana and Iniciativa-EUiA. In summer 2010, the Constitutional Court, acting on accusations of unconstitutionality brought by MPs from the right wing People’s Party, struck down important parts of the Statute. This Statute had already gone through the Spanish Congress (which had severely cut back the text agreed by 80% of the Catalan Parliament) and had then been approved by referendum in Catalonia.

In response to the partial annulment of the Statute, the Catalanist association Òmnium Cultural called a demonstration with the slogan: “We are a nation. We decide”. More than one million people took part. It was the first of a series of huge protests with up to 2 million participants.

This movement dragged a reluctant Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, “Convergència”) towards independence, thus destroying its decades long coalition with Unió Democràtica de Catalunya (Democratic Union of Catalonia, UDC),

Jordi Pujol, with his CiU coalition made up of Convergència and UDC, governed Catalonia for more than two decades. Throughout this time, this coalition acted exclusively within the framework of autonomy. The different accusations of corruption against the Pujol family did not lead to any move towards independence. Only from 2010 onwards, and under the mandate of then President Artur Mas, did Convergència commit itself to the sovereignty process.

If Convergència’s aim in supporting independence was to protect itself from accusations of corruption, it must be said that it failed miserably. At this moment, many members of the Pujol family face court cases. The same Catalan Parliament that promoted the independence consultation on 9 November 2014 also carried out a thorough investigation into corruption.

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