“Independence is not the cure because as well as the fiscal deficit there is a social deficit.
If we get a majority, we will be calling for a social revolution, because that’s what we want. We don’t shy away from the word revolution,” said Sister Teresa Forcades, a Benedictine nun and co-founder of Catalonia’s fastest-growing political movement Procès Constituent.
The movement, which aspires to an independent socialist republic of Catalonia, is riding the tide of disenchantment with mainstream politics and has acquired 45,000 members in the six months since it was founded.
In its manifesto, the group – Sister Forcades emphasised that it is not a party – calls for the nationalisation of the banks, a reversal of public spending cuts, leaving Nato and an end to the mortgage foreclosures that have led to hundreds of thousands of evictions.
“Thousands of people are being evicted from their homes while thousands of homes lie empty,” said Arcadi Oliveres, an economist at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, who is the group’s co-founder.
“This absurdity is based on the sacrosanct idea of private property. All the property the banks have acquired should be made available as social housing.”
The movement aims to focus the widespread discontent that gave rise to the so-called indignados movement that emerged in 2011 calling for “real democracy.”
“We have democracy in name, but not in reality because the broad current of opinion, which is that the system must change, is not represented,” Sister Forcades said. “Corruption and the sense of entitlement on the part of the main parties is the same in Catalonia as the rest of Spain,” added Mr Oliveres.
“There is this illusion here that all these problems will disappear if only we become independent. But aside from a small difference in the fiscal balance, everything will be the same.”
Spain and Catalonia’s political establishment ignored the indignado movement, despite massive demonstrations and prolonged occupations of public squares. It suffered from being too broad a church, a lack of focus and a refusal to form a political party. Procès Constituent aims to channel that energy and discontent into political representation.
“We aim to bring together a range of groups and social movements out of which will emerge agreed candidates who will be standing for social justice, public health services and public education,” Sister Forcades said.
She said the ruling CiU party only represents the rich and added: “A majority of people in Catalonia already want radical change so we are only trying articulate what already exists.I don’t think these changes can only happen in an independent Catalonia but I think it would be better.
“But there is a hunger for change across all of Spain and I think if it only happens in Catalonia it’s doomed to fail.”
Sister Forcades is a medical doctor who has studied at Barcelona, Harvard and Cambridge Universities. She says her political “epiphany” came when she discovered the “excessive influence” of pharmaceutical companies on public policy. She teaches theology in Berlin.