Misc 28/10/2017

An unequal clash

The Catalan Republic has been born weak and under threat

2 min

Behind yesterday´s declaration of independence of Catalonia there is a dual reality that causes conflicting feelings. On the one hand, there is the sincere effort by so many people who mobilized and worked honestly for years, in a peaceful way, providing enthusiasm and knowledge and making possible the October 1st referendum under intolerable conditions of violent repression. On the other, there is the sad evidence of the enormous difficulty that this declaration will have in producing tangible results in the short term, due to both the predictable and harsh response from the Spanish state and to the lack of real ability of the Catalan government to make it effective immediately.

Genuine enthusiasm and confusion, then, are the contradictory feelings for many Catalan citizens in the face of this historic yet fragile gesture, a product more of the impossibility of finding an interlocutor on the other side --the irresponsibility of the Rajoy government in not accepting the offer of elections extended by Puigdemont on Thursday morning will go down in history-- than of a lack of conviction in our own forces. A product more of dignity than of a political strategy that requires a British-style interlocutor.

Yesterday the reaction from the Spanish state was swift and harsh. Wounded in its pride and hiding behind the constitutional dogma of the sacred unity of Spain, it had been showing authoritarian tics for weeks. Yesterday, in a dubious and reckless interpretation of Article 155 of the Constitution, approved by the Senate by a wide majority (PP, PSOE, Cs), Rajoy did not hesitate in removing the entire Catalan administration -- including 141 key senior officials--, dissolving Parliament, and calling snap elections for December 21st. It cannot be ruled out that they will try to hold the elections with independence leaders in prison: the leaders of the ANC and Òmnium are already there, and the Attorney General is threatening all of the Catalan political leaders.

In any case, Rajoy, instead of taking control over home rule-- the management of which would be nearly impossible-- is hurrying to set out the ballot boxes for regional elections, which he blocked Puigdemont from doing. With the Generalitat at the point of falling under its power (the PP only has the support of 8% of the voters in Catalonia), an uncertain scenario presents itself: the Catalan Republic has been born weak and under threat, with its finances seriously affected, without international support, with a rarefied social climate, and at loggerheads with the Spanish government. It could become an ephemeral gesture or an investment in the future and in dignity. Its maximum support, from the people in the streets, does not deserve to go from enthusiasm to disenchantment. We are faced with an unequal clash, that of a feeble reality versus a strong country that will call the Catalan people to fresh elections while dismantling home rule.