Town Halls continue to fly nationalist flags during the Catalunya election campaigns
Although the heat seems to have subsided in the debate over independence in Catalunya during recent months, the current local election campaigns are serving to reignite arguments in many of the 947
municipalities in the region.
Despite complaints from the Societat Civil Catalana group, many Town Halls where separatist parties are in power have continued to fly the “Estelada” flag, which is one of the emblems of the Catalan independence movement. However, on Wednesday the national electoral committee upheld the complaints, and ordered that the 394 flags identified in 323 municipalities should be removed from public buildings in order to preserve neutrality during campaigning and voting.
The fight is not over, though. The Esquerra party has urged Town Halls to fly the Estelada on Sunday 24th May when voting takes place, and Convergència will be appealing against the ban.
It has to be remembered that many of the votes cast in Catalunya next Sunday will be decided with the issue of the proposed independence referendum in mind, and the separatist parties do have a case to argue. Town Halls are required by law to fly the Spanish national flag (although various in the Basque Country refuse to do so), and it could be said that this is equally likely to breach the principle of neutrality.
In Catalunya the number of Esteladas on view at public buildings and Town Halls has risen sharply since the regional election in November 2012, but this is the first time that the national electoral committee has been asked to legislate on the issue.
Image:By Pere prlpz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons