Esquerra’s lead candidate calls for the ballot box to be filled in order “to be stronger” and to build a country at the service of the people
“Now is the time for Esquerra Republicana, for a pro-independence and progressive government together” said lead candidate on the Esquerra ticket for the February 14 elections, Pere Aragonès, when he opened the campaign. “And this government can only be led by Esquerra Republicana, with honest leadership, a new way of running the country, with the common good to the fore,” said Esquerra’s deputy president, insisting there has to be an end to the 40-year alternation between socialists and conservatives in government.
Mr Aragonés called for a Republican victory at the polls because “when Esquerra wins, the country progresses; when Esquerra wins, we put solutions on the table and more people join the drive for the High Road to Independence.” Mr Aragonés, who proffered Esquerra as the tool to build a country at the service of the people, called for the ballot boxes to be filled “to be stronger, to win and to transform” and so respond to Spain’s machinations.
The lead on the Esquerra ticket was speaking at an event in Mataró, sharing the bill with the Secretary General of Esquerra Republicana, Marta Rovira, who spoke at the event live from her exile in Switzerland. Ms Rovira said that Esquerra Republicana’s commitment is to help the people, now that the nation’s challenge in overcoming the pandemic is greater than ever. That is why she advocated using all the tools available to defend the most vulnerable, to protect businesses, and to care for those who care for us. “Where is the aid Minister Illa?” she asked, addressing the former health minister, now the Socialist candidate. “Aid must be at the service of the people, not at the service of the IBEX 35 firms”, referring to the big corporations listed on the Spanish stock index.
“Although some make a big fuss, although some impose elections on us, although some take reprisals against us, they can do whatever they like; we will not be thrown off track: we have come here to stick by the people” in the midst of the pandemic, said Ms Rovira at the inauguration of the election campaign, “at a crucial and very delicate time” and with very worrying epidemiological figures that are still too high.
Esquerra’s leader upraised the party for its republicanism free of corruption, which never turns a blind eye to special interests, and that prioritizes public service. “Every effort to rebuild the nation must be a cornerstone for the Catalan Republic; because being onside with the people is to go one step further towards the Catalan Republic,” said Ms Rovira.
Going before Ms Rovira was lead candidate for Lleida and Deputy Secretary General Marta Vilalta, who appealed to Esquerra’s message to fight an unusual campaign. “We have been here since 1931, during the most complicated years and at the time of resurgence of the nation, and we are here today too, with the people,” she said. Ms Vilalta raised Esquerra as a project that does not force a choice between progress and independence, “especially not at this moment.” That is why she asks the citizens to trust Esquerra to overcome this awful crisis, so we can rebuild the country and move forwards to a Catalan republic that respects everyone’s rights; we are out to win and if Esquerra wins, everyone wins, and the country wins," she concluded.
In her turn, the number 2 on the Barcelona ticket, Laura Vilagrà appealed for a 14 February election to represent a wave of republicanism, feminism, and anti-corruption, to stop the media circus. “To get the prisoners out of prison and to put a stop to the reprisals on the exiles; instead of the dirty war against us, democracy; instead of threats, ballot boxes; and instead of those who want to put and end to us, the victory of Esquerra Republicana,” said Ms Vilagrà, convinced that politics should be made the engine of change.
Ms Vilagrà, like the lead candidate for Tarragona Raquel Sans, recalled especially the case of Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa, both political prisoners. “Being with the people means talking feminism,” added the Tarragona candidate. The gender perspective, said Ms Sans, needs to be included in public policy, and so Esquerra is “firmly committed” to feminism. And that is why we will create a Ministry of Feminism and Equality, in plural, for everyone. “We don’t all have the same opportunities; it’s our commitment and that is being by the side of the people,” she concluded.
“We are here to change the dynamics and the way of doing things of the 40 years of socialist and conservative alternation, we are here and we are convinced that we have come to win. We have a plain, straightforward project: work, family, schools, health and enthusiasm, and everything for the Catalan Republic,” said Teresa Jordà, who heads the ticket for Girona, calling for amnesty and self-determination as part of Esquerra’s national project.
That idea was also picked up on by the Speaker of the Parliament of Catalonia and number 3 on the ticket, Roger Torrent. “Republic means many things, it must mean many things; it must involve improving the quality of life of the people: not to change the flag on the vaccine crates—referring to the Spanish flag plastered across the cases of Covid vaccine—but to improve the health system,” said Mr Torrent.
“We will not veer from a plural, cohesive and diverse Catalonia, where everyone has a place,” said Najat Driouech when questioning whether the socialist PSC and the left-wing Comuns would accept the votes of neo-fascist party Vox or a racist like Manuel Valls to attain the presidency of the Catalan Generalitat government. “I would like to hear their answer. To be on the side of the people is to fight fascism head on; we want a society with rights for everyone; fascism goes against life and we cannot let them get into Parliament.”