The year in which politics and management have to go hand in hand
In recent years, the opposition has often accused the Catalan Government of being too focused on the independence process and of having put management on the back burner. The height of this criticism was voiced a week ago by Salvador Illa, when he said that the last 10 years had been the worst of the last 300, in a sentence that was also extremely unfortunate. The fact is that it has been a recurrent and too generic criticism, because over the last 10 years many things have happened, and part of the paralysis is also attributable, but not only, to the application of the Spanish Constitution article (155) which limited self-rule in Catalonia. However, it is true that the Catalan independence bid has covered priorities and debates that are key to the future of the country, such as infrastructure, which has now exploded with the El Prat airport project, but also the economic, energy, education, and so on.
With the new political year, and without a clear horizon for the independence process, all these sectorial debates are taking on a relevance that they did not have before. It is true that in September there will be a meeting of the dialogue table and that the various legal cases opened as a result of the Catalan independence bid will continue to advance, but Pere Aragonès will no longer be able to hide behind this pro-independence agenda to avoid making purely managerial decisions, as some of his predecessors had done.
Therefore, this is a year in which politics (basically dialogue with the government of Pedro Sánchez) and management will have to go hand in hand. In some cases in a practically inseparable way, for example with the negotiation of the state budget.
Curiously, the pandemic has meant, regardless of the first phase of recentralisation, a moment when self-government has been more visible than ever. The Catalan authorities have had to take decisions, some of them unpopular, that affected the population as a whole. And there have been the logical tensions between partners in government with different visions from the socio-economic point of view. It also happened on fiscal issues in the debate over the past budgets. And it is happening now with the project to expand El Prat.
The only thing we need to ask of our leaders is that all of these subjects are not approached from an ideological prejudice or with an eye on the next elections (the municipal ones), but on the basis of a thorough debate on the pros and cons and with the highest level of expertise. Independentism has to show that it is not afraid to face difficult debates and take decisions, because governing means exactly this: seeking the benefit of the majority.
While working towards a legal and recognised referendum, the independence movement has to manage the so-called 'meanwhile'. And Pere Aragonès is already proving that it will not be easy.