Misc 29/10/2018

The price of politics

Esther Vera
3 min
El preu de la política

One year after the upheaval, it is necessary to take stock of the situation. In Catalonia, the independence bid ran aground due to impatience, distrust, and an eagerness to please. Impatience at every step, which did not allow for a consolidation of the sovereignty movement's progress in Catalan society, nor even to assess its importance. Impatience that manifested itself as maximalist goals, conditioned by the CUP, and in rigid calendars that limited political action and the indispensable flexibility demanded by dialogue.

Political leaders never set aside party interests as their main objective when dealing with their partners and, in this way, a mutual mistrust began to smolder that exploded with the debate on the call for snap elections.

And as for aiming to please? The atmosphere a year ago was suffocating for anyone who wanted to freely reflect and who realized the importance of doubting and moving away from the phantoms of collective thinking.

Staring unblinkingly at Twitter’s micro-world led to a preponderance of testosterone, and even today the religious police of independence moves freely within the comfort of orthodoxy, accusations of treason, and calls for immolation —by others, of course. The patriotic rallying cries called for unanimous opinions that, neither then nor now, are useful for the cause being defended.

Silence fell

One year after the saddest declaration of independence, we know that the entire Catalan government and the Parliament's executive committee were aware that they had immolated themselves without grasping what the result of their sacrifice would be, beyond the suspension of self-government and a declaration without legal repercussions. The silence of that Friday night was followed by an anguished weekend and, later, the State's revenge, exemplified by prison and exile. One of the key players said a year ago that "revolutions must be carried out by people without families or children", and the price that is being paid today is exorbitant.

October ended without self-government, or a government, or even independence, but talk of a virtual republic continued. It is clear that the worst version of Spanish politics does not favor transparency, but the public deserve a lucid analysis from politicians so they can face the future and understand that independence is a long-term project.

One year later, what remains is a very solid majority of citizens who want a referendum to be held under conditions that the international community and the Spanish State will recognize. It is a large majority that will not give up, will not capitulate on their convictions, that wants independence and an irreversible break-up of emotional ties with Spain. There are also some institutions that have been recovered, but with a stalemated Parliament where Ciudadanos have become strong, holding the largest number of seats in the chamber.


The political earthquake has had numerous and intense aftershocks in Madrid, where the Catalan question has also affected all the political forces and put them under stress. In particular, the PP has become polarized, divided between supporters of violence and aggressive dialectics —led by PP leader Pablo Casado and former PM Aznar—, and supporters of political omission and a recourse to justice that is voluntarily willing to do things as God and King mandate.

With Susana Díaz busy trying to survive in Andalusia, PSOE leader and PM Pedro Sánchez has gained some respite to make decisions. His capacity for dialogue will determine whether the budget succeeds or fails, and if fresh elections will be necessary. At the moment opinion polls are looking auspicious.

Broadly speaking, society and its political representatives are divided between supporters of change, immobility, and reaction. Even internal party borders are blurred.

Those in favor of change are for rethinking Spain after the harakiri of the 1978 regime due to the ruling on the Catalan Statute, the contempt inherent in the response to the independence bid, and the repression of the referendum.

Proponents of immobility act with the hope —and no other argument— that the determination of 47.5% of Catalan society will wane and that, therefore, resistance is all that is needed.

Those in favor of reaction are motivated by the nostalgia of returning to the jingoistic one, great, and free Spain. It is the same Spain that is not able to recognize that it must purge itself of the vestiges of the Franco regime, which is lost in the rhetoric of Hispanic character, which expects women to revert to their traditional role in society and speaks against homosexuals and feminism. In short, a Spain that connects with a populism and authoritarianism that extends throughout the world, one that is deeply rooted in the Franco regime.

Catalan political players should decide if they prefer to give their support to change or to reaction while they pursue their goal of sovereignty. And, for now, it seems that there is no unanimous agreement on the choice.