Pirates to Decide Everything – Elections in Catalonia 27/9
In the last few years, Catalonia has had an economic crisis whilst the government has been corrupt. The public health system has been partly privatized, there are mortgage problems in many families and the unemployment is around 20%. For these, and other reasons, citizens and members of grassroots movement have created three initiatives to strengthen the rights that are lost to neo-liberalism. In this context, with a strong separatist sentiment in much of society, with TTIP flying over Europe to violate our rights, Catalans will go to the polls on September 27.
Pirates of Catalonia will participate in the upcoming regional elections. Spanish law forces the parties outside of parliament to collect nearly 5,000 signatures to participate. These signatures must be guaranteed and all done in three weeks. For this election, those guarantees have to be collected during the summer time, while many local citizens are outside their cities.
However, the province of Girona already managed to collect signatures. On the open primaries, the citizens elected two persons. Enric Pineda, as the Head of the list Pirates de Catalunya – per decidir-ho tot (Pirates of Catalonia to decide everything) and Ariadna Hormigo (mostly known as Ari).
Enric was born in Premià de Mar, a village not far from Barcelona, but twelve years ago he moved to Girona. He is trained librarian with a BA in Library and Information Science, currently working for Fundacio Salut i Envelliment, a research foundation within the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (Autonomous University of Barcelona). Enric is also working as a spokesperson for the Pirates de Catalunya (PPCAT). Being a spokesperson is something he also does for the local chapter in the Girona City Area. Enric is a married and a beloved father of two.
Ari was born in Palamós and she is 25 years old. She is a designer and currently studies technical architecture in the University of Girona. She likes photography and has an interest for everything related to the creative area. Eight months ago Ari and other pirates founded the territory of Mitja Costa Brava (Middle Costa Brava). Ari was the head candidate on the list for her local election.
Pirate Times met up with Enric Pineda and Ariadna Hormigo (Ari) to talk about the upcoming election.
Pirate Times: Enric, you are the Head of the Pirates’ list, please tell us how you have been elected in first place to represent all of Pirates de Catalunya’s ideology.
Enric: Pirates de Catalunya has decided every list through a process of primary elections. Two people proposed themselves to be the Head, and votations were held, not only to Party members but also to citizens living in the electoral constituency. As a a result of this voting, I became the first on that list.
Pirate Times: Ari, What is chosen in these elections on 27 September in Catalunya? Independence from Spain?
Ari: We will choose new members of Parliament. The elections should be called next year but the President, together with other parties, called it this month. This happened after the rejection from the Central Government (from president Rajoy) about Catalan trying to vote on whether being independent from Spain or not. For pirates referendums are essentials tools for a democratic participation in society. Because of this we disobeyed the imposition of not being able to ask and exercise our democratic rights to participate in the multi-referendum that concerns important and legitimate day-to-day activity in Catalonia.
Pirate Times: Enric, which is the focus of the Pirates de Catalunya programme for this elections?
Enric: Primarily we wish to focus on three main branches that, in my opinion, drive all the politics of the Pirate Parties:
- increase the level of transparency for public institutions, starting with the activity of the MPs themselves
- access to information, in order to create and promote public opinion around issues of concern
- participation in those issues, because citizens have to be informed to make good decisions and empower themselves as citizens.
Pirate Times: Ari, this year is very demanding for you since the pirates will have three elections in total during the year. The first one happened in May for the City hall (where Pirates de la Mitja Costa Brava ran for the first time and you were the Head of the List), then the coming regional elections on September 27th, and finally, at the end of the year, the national election for the Parliament as well as electing a new President. How has this year been for you and the Pirates?
Ari: Full sail! We haven’t stopped. In my village: Palamós, we created the territorial in January and immediately started to collaborate with social movements and different collectives. Then was the time of preparation for the electoral program, it was opened for all citizens to participate.
Posting the candidacy posters throughout the city, the interviews, the actions (as the one against the gag laws), the campaign and the election were all made with energy and were joyful. This time we didn’t get elected but we are still proud and committed. This summer is being very intense because we had to collect endorsement and everything related to the elections. And seeing how we go, we will end the year with the same positive energy.
Pirate Times: Enric, the pirates are very excited about the possibilty that you might be elected. How do you feel about that? Which are your sensations about this election? Will this election be “easy”?
Enric: Honestly, I think this will probably be the most difficult elections for us in years. There have been two main difficulties to overcome: one is the need to gather signatures, as guarantees to obtain a ballot for a constituency. In Girona we needed to gather around 600 signatures in 20 days in August, which meant a lot of work under the sun asking people to support our project. On the other hand, we have the fact that elections in Catalonia this year will have a special meaning, as everyone expects them to be about the independence referendum that the Spanish government did not authorize. Thus, when we were asked about our position on Catalonia’s independence, our answer (“we want to make a referendum, even if we have to disobey the Spanish laws”) is often interpreted as a “no” for independence, making it tougher to gather signatures. Speaking about the possibility of being elected as a MP… well, I would be glad if we get better results than other years and more people know us and feel curious about our project and our way of making politics.
Pirate Times: Ari please tell us about the people in Girona, do they know about PPCAT? What do they expect about from PPCAT?
Ari: Considering that the mass media does not give us a place during the prime time, I think the people knows us very well. Each time we have participated for elections in Catalonia, we have had good growing results. Now we have elected Councilors, and they are working hard and doing a very good job in their cities. Is true that young people know us better, the same happens with people connected to Internet and social networks. Since most of us have double activism, participating both with Pirates and other grassroots movements, we are known to them as well. Those grassroots also demand the same as us: direct democracy, human rights and free tools. They expect us to bring real direct democracy: to give the free tools, knowledge and to carry the democracy to each house, school or hospital.
From Pirate Times we thank Enric and Ari for their interview and wish all the best to Pirates de Catalunya in their upcoming election. We will follow the campaign and elections and report about it.
Featured image: CC-BY Pirates de Girona, Image displays Pirates de Catalunya – Per decidir-ho tot. From left to right: Alex Bueno, Ramón Hormigo, AP, Enric Pineda and Ari Hormigo Pita