“A catastrophic situation should be reached”

The Barça election calendar is maintained. Despite the indicators of the pandemic and the pressures of some pre-candidates for the presidency, the Electoral Board is reluctant to modify the planned plans. It will end the collection of guarantees on Monday 11 January and will call Barça members to the polls on the 24th. Therefore, it will not extend the deadline for accumulating signatures, which some applicants have already requested, nor will it extend the date of the comics. Unless the pandemic is completely out of control in the coming days, which would force the Generalitat to intervene in the process, the social masses will elect a new president in three weeks.

For days now, pre-candidates have been suffering from the collection of signatures, the first step – not at all easy – to become full-fledged candidates. The current scenario, with restrictions on the rise, has changed the plans and, in return, has put on the ropes those pre-candidates who did not have the logistics ready to get all the tickets by mail. Limits on mobility, the fear of the elderly to leave home and a very high number of aspirants have made everything that has served so far cease to be effective. The weight of the polling stations has decreased and the collection of signatures door to door, in addition to being complex in terms of logistics, has made the less media candidates at a disadvantage compared to others.

It is in this scenario, and with the addition of the new restrictions, that many aspirants have asked the Electoral Board for an extension: temporarily suspend the meeting of guarantees to have more days, depending on the evolution of the pandemic , to achieve. So far no one was able to send in the perfect solution, which is not strange. It is protected by the calendar in the statutes, which sets meridian deadlines for obtaining and submitting guarantees.

As soon as the Government announced new restrictions, the pre-candidates went out of their way based on their personal situation. Some, like Joan Laporta, a favorite in the polls -at least in those that have been published in the media- see no need to extend deadlines. On the other hand, men like Emili Rousaud, Xavi Vilajoana or Jordi Farré, whom the polls consider incapable of beating, are on fire to get an extension to try to convince more partners. Others, such as Toni Freixa, navigate between two waters and prefer not to enter the debate and let the Electoral Board decide what it deems appropriate.

Laporta, president from 2003 to 2010 and candidate in 2015, considers that “there is no objective reason” to postpone the elections or to extend the collection of signatures. He believes all aspirants have had “the same opportunities and the same problems” to get enough endorsements in times of pandemic and closed-door matches. Of course, not everyone had the name or the charisma of the person who ran the organization for seven years.

In turn, Toni Freixa, deputy director in the first years of Laporta’s term and director from 2010 to 2015 during the term of Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, seems to be content with the rules of the game that are given to him. As an example, the pre-candidate sent a letter to the Electoral Board in which he assured that he would “submit to the decision” of the Electoral Board, whatever it may be.

Essential trade treatment

On the other hand, from Xavi Vilajoana’s point of view, on the 24th “you can’t vote”. The pre-candidate, a member of the board until the resignation of Josep Maria Bartomeu en bloc, alleges that the pandemic conditions the schedule provided for in Barça’s statutes and therefore calls for the deadlines to be extended. However, the Electoral Board considers the electoral calendar to be immovable. At least as long as the Generalitat, through the Procicat, does not say otherwise. For now, the club is set to follow the statutes, while the Government’s first premise is to “preserve the right to vote”, according to sources close to the Generalitat. It will all depend on the meeting that Barça and Procicat will have next week, in which the indicators of the pandemic will be assessed and a decision will be made. In any case, these same sources believe that “a catastrophic situation should be reached” in order to postpone the elections.

Procicat and club have only granted two extraordinary measures to oxygenate those pre-candidates who go fairer in the collection. On the one hand, they will be allowed to open their polling station this weekend, as if they were an essential business, so that members who want to can register their support signature. And on the other hand, they will let the members of the pre-candidacies travel all over the territory, duly accredited, to hunt down the guarantees of the hundreds of members who do not live in Barcelona.

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