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Spain: Catalan Elections – “We are all Garcia”

Categories: Spain, Arts & Culture, Citizen Media, Elections, Ethnicity & Race, Governance, History, Language, Migration & Immigration, Politics

This Sunday, November 25, 2012 voters in Catalonia head to the polls against the backdrop of a lagging economy and fierce debate about secession from Spain. The electoral campaign, which has honed in on the question of independence [1], began last week with a polemic video posted on the Youtube channel of the unionist Catalan People's Party [2] [es] (Partit Popular de Catalunya or PPC).

The video, which makes the claim that the government of an independent Catalonia would mandate Catalans of Spanish origin to change their last names, marks an attempt by the PPC to drive the debate on secession in an ethnic direction — garnering harsh criticism from political rivals and their supporters, who have employed inclusive rhetoric [3] [ca], deliberately trying to frame the debate along ethnic and more generally cultural lines.

The video takes place on the first day of Catalonia's independence, in which a man is forced to change his last name from Garcia, one of Spanish origin, to a Catalan name, Garriga. The scenario turns out to be a fictitious nightmare and viewer is made to believe that, in order to end this nightmare, he needs to vote for PPC.

The video which already has more than 70,000 hits on youtube has rapidly generated a negative reaction among Catalan netizens on Twitter, who created the hashtag #totssomgarcia [4] [ca] or “we are all Garcia”, expressing solidarity with “Spanish” Catalans and criticizing the divisive content of the PPC campaign spot. Some have highlighted the video as erroneous, since Garcia is actually the most common surname in Catalonia [5] [ca] and its ethnic origins are ambiguous [6].

Some users have also highlighted the irony that the only time in Spain when names were prohibited was during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco — whose former ministers went on to found the Spanish People's Party, with which the PPC is affiliated.

@victorcullell [7] Quin detall aquesta campanya del PP. I pensar que durants anys va estar prohibit inscriure noms en català al Registre Civil #totssomgarcia [8]
@victorcullell [7] What detail from the PP campaign. To think, for many years Catalan names were illegal #totssomgarcia [8]
@xpgxavier [9] Els pares em volien Jordi,el mossen va dir que no, que Jorge,davant la negativa vaig ser Javier,ara Xavier, Paredes Garcia #totssomgarcia [8]
@xpgxavier [9] My parents wanted to name me Jordi but they had to name me Jorge. They decided on Javier. Now I'm Xavier Paredes Garcia #totssomgarcia [8]
@AdriaAlsina [10] Al 1959 es va obligar a que tots els noms es registressin en… castellà#totssomGarcia [11] http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cronologia_de_la_repressi%C3%B3_del_catal%C3%A0 … [12]
@AdriaAlsina [10] In 1959 they banned all names that weren't in Spanish #totssomGarcia [11] http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cronologia_de_la_repressi%C3%B3_del_catal%C3%A0 … [12]
In some cases, users with the last name Garcia — or others of Spanish origin — used the opportunity to declare their support for independence.
@perearagones [13] Srs del PP:La meva mare, el meu germà i jo ens diem Garcia i volem la independènciaVisca els Garcia i visca Catalunya Lliure! #totssomGarcia [11]
@perearagones [13] Dear PP: my mother, my brother and I are Garcias and we want independence. Viva all Garcias and viva Catalonia!  #totssomGarcia [11]
The politician Josep Huguet of Catalonia's Republican Left (ERC) and a partisan rival of the PPC, chimed in with his own provocative campaign rhetoric.
@Josep_Huguet [14] Tinc besavis a l'Aragó, gendres i joves de famílies andaluses i navarreses.I el PP parla de neteja ètnica.Els nazis són ells#totssomGarcia [11]
@Josep_Huguet [14] I have grandparents in Aragon, relatives in Andalusia and Navarre. And the PPC wants to talk ethnicity. They're nazis. #totssomGarcia [11]
Some users sardonically asserted that the PPC's campaign strategy would be electorally counterproductive.
@OscarVallFoto [15] 2 vídeos més així del PP abans del #25N [16] i es fan independentistes fins les mones del zoològic. #totssomGarcia [11]
@OscarVallFoto [15] Another two videos before #25N [16] and the PP will make separatists out of everyone, even monkeys at the zoo. #totssomGarcia [11]