Photo: Ines Arrimadas, leader of Ciudadanos in Catalonia (Credit: Vilaweb)
By: Staff writers
Date: 21st November, 2018
The votes of Ciutadans (the Citizens party) and the PP (People’s Party) were not sufficient to approve a proposed law on ‘the use of symbols in institutions and the guarantee of neutrality in public spaces’ presented by both parties, which, if passed, would have included legislation to remove yellow ribbons from the streets. Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia), Catalunya en Comú (Catalonia in Common), the PSC (Socialist Party of Catalonia) and the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) voted against it.
During the joint debate on the proposals of Cs and the PP, deputy for the PP, Andrea Levy, declared the text of the bill to be a tool to stop the ‘disturbing impositions by means of aesthetics, which create a mentality and perception of intimidation’ to return to normality, and the stereotypical narrative of the “good Catalan”. She was concerned above all, however, she said, about the meaning of the vote of the PSC. ‘Do not be silently complicit in this vote, get rid of the yellow ribbon that they have tied to a seat in the Moncloa’, chided Levy to Miquel Iceta’s deputies.
Carlos Carrizosa, parliamentary spokesperson of the Cs, promoted the proposed bill as defending the ‘neutrality’ of the public space, to encourage Parliament to pass it. And he reproached the independence supporters for their proposed amendments, the scale of which he equated to an attempt to simply halt the debate in the chamber. ‘They do not want to renounce the power of being the implied owners of public spaces: they have made themselves masters of the balconies and façades’. Carrizosa affirmed that JxCat and ERC disrupted the process because they are ‘comfortable in the abuse’ of using symbols in public spaces, which affects areas such as health, education and the interior. ‘They do not complain when the people, residents, unintentional language colonizers, mobilize to defend that which they seek to destroy, the neutrality of public space,” Carrizosa told the Government, ironically.
ERC deputy Jenn Diaz reproached Cs and PPC who want street neutrality but, on the other hand, are not worried about the Francoist nomenclature in public spaces. ‘When they want to eliminate Francoism, fascism and the extreme right we will talk again, meanwhile we will continue to take a stand’, she added. In addition, the Republican deputy has argued that there will be neutrality in the street when there is neutrality in the courts. ‘When justice and courts are neutral, we will make sure that yellow disappears from the façades and balconies, and the public space will once again breathe neutrality.’ In this sense, she reproached them for wanting to make an ‘ideological cleansing’ of public spaces and return to a ‘totalitarian regime’.
For her part, the deputy of JxCat Anna Geli argued that the yellow ribbon does not belong to anyone and that it is the result of a ‘brutal repression’ by the state against those who have been jailed and exiled for more than a year. She insisted that ‘until they are finished with the political judicial farce, the ribbons will continue to emerge and reproduce, until the ignominious case is over’. In addition, regarding the regulation of official symbols such as flags in public spaces, the JxCat deputy reiterated that there are regulations already in place.
In his turn, socialist deputy Ferran Pedret asserted that the text of the C’s and the PP bill was excessive and accused them of gamesmanship, by presenting the proposals knowing full well they wouldn’t get a majority, in order to rebuke the socialists for voting with the pro-independence block, and portray them as soft, or traitors. He also said that the texts proposed by Inés Arrimadas and Alejandro Fernández set ‘negative limits to freedom of expression’. Pedret, who has been opposed to a politicization of public administrations, has instead argued for the individual rights of the people who work there, warning that the fundamental debate is not about the Estelada and yellow ribbons but the ‘rights of all’.
And Lucas Ferro, from Catalonia in Common, applauded the PSC for joining the pro-independent groups by blocking the texts of Cs and the PP. ‘And not going in with Albiol and the hooligans of 155’, he added. From his point of view, both proposals were the result of the ‘cockfighting’ between C’s, PP and Vox, and at the same time a ‘frontal attack on the democratic rights and freedoms’ of the country, which ‘for 40 years has allowed partisan ideological symbols in the street’. Ferro, who has encouraged the Cs ‘and its partisan propaganda’ bus to continue driving through Madrid for that same reason, has also reproached Carrizosa for portraying the proposed amendments to the whole of the bill as an underhanded way of blocking parliamentary debate. ‘Tell Rivera to take note: What blocks debate is to vetoing proposals at the Congressional level.’ he scolded.
Carles Riera also appealed to the freedom of expression and warned Cs and the PP that public space ‘is not now, nor will it ever be, neutral’. He asserted that the texts proposed are in line with “repressing disobedient and emancipatory symbolic dissidence, and imposing the hegemony of language of the regime of ‘78”. “If you want consensus, propose a law against fascist, Nazi, monarchist, sexist and racist symbols; here we could find common ground”, Riera concluded.