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, began last week with a polemic video posted on the Youtube channel of the unionist Catalan People's Party [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 [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 [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 [ca] and its ethnic origins are ambiguous.
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.
@AdriaAlsina Al 1959 es va obligar a que tots els noms es registressin en… castellà #totssomGarcia http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cronologia_de_la_repressi%C3%B3_del_catal%C3%A0 …