09/02/2021

Beyond Sunday

3 min

1. Campaign If electoral campaigns are already strange in themselves, little could be expected from one as conditioned as the current one. As a result of the long hangover of October 2017, it has unfailingly been marked by the question of identity. It is one of those ideologies - direct transfer of the theological to politics (the homeland as ineffable superior good) - that inevitably creates walls in which, as Albert Hirschman said, "arguments are, in fact, counterpoints specifically designed to make dialogue and deliberation impossible". If we add the framework in which they have had to be held (the pandemic and, therefore, the threat of a high abstention rate), the issue becomes more acute because, with the aim of guaranteeing at least the participation of each party's most ardent supporters, the tendency is to reaffirm one's own space, avoiding risks that could be disconcerting. So that even those who announce themselves as the bearers of the will to build bridges, from Pere Aragonès to Salvador Illa, are forced to promise that they will not enter into a government pact with any party from the rival identity camp.

To make matters even more aporetic, the public quarrels that wore down the previous government have led the two parties that formed part of it, Esquerra and Junts per Catalunya, continue with gibes on a daily basis, in pathetic eagerness to show which of the two is more authentically pro-independence. This is especially true of Junts, shameless when it comes to promising what everyone knows cannot be done.

Conclusion: the disqualification of the opponent's proposals as useless, as jeopardising main objectives and asr generating undesired effects, has been this campaign's bread and butter. Futility, risk and perversion, the three categories of reactive thinking, as described by Albert Hirschman.

2. Government That is why it seems to me that we need to look to the day after the elections. And what we know are two things. The first is that Catalans cannot live off the question of identity alone, because the list of emergencies will continue to include the pandemic, now directly converted into a syndemic, and all its consequences: the health effects beyond the virus (illnesses that the pandemic has left in the background, psychological pathologies that have derived from it), the economic and social recovery from a fracture that is slowly emerging but that cannot be hidden with fantastic promises of revival, and the need to assume without delay the problems of climate change and sustainability. All this requires a strong and cohesive government, with the capacity to complicity move Catalan society and which has the weight and capacity to negotiate in Madrid, which is also what the Catalan business world demands.

The second is that the key to government that must emerge from the elections, whichever way you look at it, is Esquerra Republicana, which enjoys a privileged position. It is unthinkable that a government could emerge without its approval. Pere Aragonès has protected himself with the proposal of a carousel government, in which there are so many guests that it could even beat the current government's levels of infighting. In the end, it is a way out so as not to make a premature decision on whether he prefers to repeat the coalition with Junts or whether he foresees some version of a left-wing government. Naturally, Esquerra will not have the same strength if it comes first as if it comes second, but, in any case, it will decide. How different will what has been said in the electoral ritual and what is done with the results in hand be?

In any case, if it really want to look to the future, the government that emerges from these elections must negotiate the release of political prisoners without further delay. And it will have to face a complicated situation in Madrid. Whether we like it or not, these elections are also important for Spain. They can strengthen or weaken the current government, but above all they can anticipate a risk that could have unforeseeable consequences: a defeat of the PP by Vox here will open the way to a change in the hegemony on the Spanish right in favour of the far right. And we go back to the beginning: it is obvious that the identitarian wall is an obstacle to progress towards a civilised solution to the conflict. The Spanish right has the PSOE quite trapped. But advantage must be taken in the cracks in the current government because it could be even worse.

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