The Occitan Nation Party and the European elections
The results of European elections that were held on May 25th concern the Occitan Nation Party. In the South-East constituency, it supported the Alfonsi list of candidates and in the South-West constituency the candidates of “Occitania for a Europe of the Peoples” led by Martine Gros. This list of candidates was the only one solely made up of Occitan activists. Half of the candidates were members of the Occitan Nation Party. It had proved impossible to make Basque and Catalan activists join the list. The campaign team with limited human resources and financial means had not been able to supply all the polling stations in 18 departments with its ballot papers and had relied on the possibility to download them from our blog, on leafletings in farmer’s markets and billposting. Under these circumstances, it was impossible for us to achieve a good result. Ballot downloading remains a marginal practice. The best results, however weak they are, in comparison with major parties, generally are in areas where true field work was carried out. Neither did rift within the world of Occitan activism help us. Members of the Occitan Party were candidates on José Bové’s green list and, with a few exceptions, voted for him. Many Occitan cultural activists had reservations about our list or were downright hostile to it. Of course, you may consider that 878 votes out of 6 million voters is a pathetic result and yet these efforts haven’t been useless. Martine Gros is right to underline that in a certain number of departments hotbeds of reconquest have cropped up. Starting from this sympathy capital, we may be able to find future activists ready to stand for other elections and we will gradually enter into the political landscape as the Bastir! movement with its 55 town councillors has begun to do. All this, so long as field work continues beyond election time. Meanwhile, we are worried about the rise of populism in the E.U and especially about the spectacular progress of the National Front in the French State and about massive abstention. They are indicators of distrust and rejection of the E.U by an increasing proportion of voters. The National Front, which has never been in office does not have to face the disrepute of the political class, deemed incompetent or corrupt. It raises without taboos the issues of identity, uncontrolled immigration and the arrogance of European technocrats. It puts forward simplistic ideas like exiting the euro, protectionism, a return to the French backyard and job protection. Many citizens who have nothing to do with fascism approve these ideas. Faced with this xenophobic jingoism, The excellent pro-European platform of the list led by Martine Gros hasn’t counted for much. Occitan independentist nationalists will only be convincing in the future if they refrain from ideological lecturing and try, without demagoguery, to meet the concerns of ordinary folk. We are not bound to remain on the fringe of the political spectrum for ever. Instead of bemoaning our weakness, let’s roll up our sleeves for independence will not come tomorrow. What is needed is field work and nothing but field work. From now on the Occitan Nation Party activists will have to support or join social movements, cultural work being wrongly considered as beyond politics. Here is the key to our future national liberation. It will materialize only if Occitan activists of every persuasion unite. We call on them to build with us the Occitania of tomorrow.
May 28th, 2014