A leaked document shows how Catalan separatists have been planning secession from Spain since 2015 and how they sought to confront the central government and influence public opinion to achieve independence.
The document, obtained by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, was confiscated by the Spanish Civil Guard at the home of Josep Maria Jove i Llado, the general secretary of the vice presidency and of the economy and treasury department of the Catalan autonomous government.
Jove i Llado was detained on September 20 by the Civil Guard on charges of sedition for taking part in the organization of the October 1st independence referendum, which Spain’s Constitutional Court had suspended as illegal. The Constitution of Spain states that the country is ‘indivisible’.
The separatist document reveals how independence advocates worked to bring about secession and how they exploited the dissatisfaction of the electorate with the current political situation in order to promote the idea of separation from the central government.
“Both the Catalan and the Spanish elections show an enormous desire for change with regard to the status quo,” the document states on page 10. The authors write that “unionism [with Spain] appears very stable and at around 40%”, while “independentism is higher but doesn’t reach 50%.” The text points out that “10-15% [of the electorate] want change without necessarily supporting independence.”
The document lays out a road map to independence and examines various trends and strategies with the aim of swinging votes towards independence. The authors envisioned a policy of confrontation with Spain in order to radicalize voters.
The strategy was supposed to lead to “a democratic conflict of ample popular support, aimed at generating political and economic instability that shall force the State to accept either negotiations on separation or a forced referendum.”
The unilateral declaration of independence “will generate a conflict which, if managed well, can lead to an [independent] State.” The authors believed that “the Spanish State will not recognize the right to hold a referendum, but if it thinks that everything is lost, it will allow it to be held in order that we may lose it.”
The document reveals the separatists’ intention to influence public opinion both in Catalonia and internationally, and their political calculus with regard to ‘conflict management’ with the central authorities.
“When there is a clear popular determination to support and actively take part in [the independence movement] and with international support, we then must begin in a conservative way to increase gradually the level of conflict according to the reaction of the State, under the leadership and with the co-ordination of all participants and without any kind of doubt about actions and schedule,” the document says.
The separatist road map stresses the importance of cultivating Catalan public opinion before moving towards a referendum, underscoring the idea that popular support is fundamental to gain the sympathy of the international community. “[P]recipitating an independence declaration without having worked thoroughly on those values [of the independence movement] would not be very attractive in the eyes of the international community.”
The authors of the paper argued that the independence discourse should be focused on the “rational and emotional reasons for an independent State.” They also planned the formation of the new state, managing the “disconnection” from Spain by using existing autonomous institutions as the basis on which to build a fully independent state.
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