Aragonès and Sánchez give dialogue a chance
The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, and the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, inaugurated the path of dialogue with a 40-minute phone call. The next step will be a face-to-face meeting in Madrid, and the real first step will take place when the dialogue table meets for the first time since the new Catalan government was formed. These are obviously preliminary steps that have much to do with staging, but the joint statement agreed by Aragonès's and Sánchez's teams is proof that, this time, the path of dialogue will be explored seriously. It also provides many clues as to the story they want to convey to society.
Firstly, it is significant that the first shared objective cited is the fight against the pandemic and economic reconstruction, with special attention to European funds. This is consistent with the image Aragonès wishes to convey of an executive focused on management at a key moment for redrawing the foundations of the Catalonia of the future, and to which the negotiation to resolve the Catalan political conflict must be parallel but on another circuit, without interfering in the day-to-day running of Government. Evidently, this discourse also makes things easier for Pedro Sánchez, who is preparing to assume a very high political cost with the approval of pardons and the reform of the crime of sedition.
Secondly, it underlines what the method of working from now on must be, that is, dialogue. Specifically, the agreed text states that "they have shared the goal of moving towards overcoming common challenges through dialogue". It is clear that the main common challenge is the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. It is here that the dialogue table will begin, as of this summer, a journey that will last two years before, on the one hand, the Catalan side takes stock and President Aragonès submits to a question of confidence in Parliament and, on the other, the Spanish government submits to the verdict of the ballot box at the end of the legislature.
It is, therefore, a dialogue that will undergo its first examination in two years' time, and for this reason it will have to have already borne some initial fruit. It is difficult to believe that in these two years the definitive solution to the situation will be found, which can only be a referendum, given the distance that separates the two governments and also the fragility of the Spanish executive, which will be subjected to extreme pressure from the triple right. But it is also clear that if in two years there is no result, the Catalan side will have no incentive to continue and therefore an undesirable situation of deadlock will be reached.
The only reason for hope is that Sánchez needs ERC to stay in power and that ERC needs Sánchez to be able to implement its strategy of dialogue, with the aim that, if it does not bear the expected fruit, it will at least help add more supporters to the cause of independence. In politics you have to try to take advantage of every chance. And dialogue offers a very clear one: to redirect a conflict that should never have left the political sphere.