3 min
Encadenats by emotions

When Catalan society had not yet overcome the trauma of 2017, and the harshness of prison and exile had conditioned the capacity and freedom with which to make a rational analysis of the mistakes made and an inventory of setbacks and political advances, covid arrived to finish submerging political action in impotence and unbridled emotions.

"I feel an absolute loneliness. It's like a cold fog that envelops you", says President Quim Torra in an entry in Les hores greus, the diary of the first wave of the covid pandemic. Torra explains very clearly his loneliness, the cruelty of the health, economic and social reality he had to manage, the total lack of foresight, the incompetence of the main ministries, the coalition's squabbles, the disloyalty of the central government and how his emotions ran wild under the pressure of the situation.

A reading of the diary reveals the president's and the government's own overflow in the worst of times. "I feel angry. On the verge of constantly losing my temper, with an anguish that clouds my thoughts. I have to find myself again. Gravity and serenity. I'm losing the balance between the two words", he says. Torra speaks of "frustration and impotence", he is "disappointed" and explains that he "bursts into tears". He asks for help and the psychologist tells him: "It's normal to cry, it's OK". But she recommended that he cry "in an orderly fashion".

The president, in secret mode

Torra is overcome by a reality that could break anyone, and explains that he has no team, that they are berated, that they do not prepare the documentation he asks for, and that he does not have a cohesive government either, nor does he even have good internal information - he is even forced to enter Procicat meetings in secret mode. He explains the ultimatums to El Homrani over the mess of the care homes until Yolanda Lejardi takes care of it. Nor does he have the support of his own, whom he considers immersed in the politics and the constant "chatter" of JxCat, which "depresses" him. The president of the Generalitat writes in one of the worst days of his life: "There is no need to write down anything about the meetings of JxCat and the executive council because they have been useless".

Quim Torra does not have the makings of a president and, in fact, he says that he does not understand why he was elected. I was not prepared for the cruelty of Catalan politics", he admits. Perhaps I didn't have the ambition or the strength that is needed. But I believed that we were going to achieve independence and not war among ourselves".

Torra's presidency has been a parenthesis for the country that cannot be repeated without falling into irrelevance when Catalonia needs to rebuild itself economically, socially and politically. Torra was a victim of his lack of knowledge of politics, of the lack of a joint strategy of the government and above all of a lack of truth. While he considered that the objective was to "pick up where we left off" and defends "the real revolt" to obtain an independence that "will be achieved in the streets", his is a solo strategy. In practice, JxCat and ERC were in a phase of self-reconstruction and retreat, and they knew that in the medium term there would not be enough strength for another onslaught with the Spanish state. They knew that the social force of 2017 was spoiled by accelerating the last few metres against the wall, and that the new strategy is to be formulated.

The same?

Coinciding with today's talks to agree on a new coalition between ERC and JxCat, the reading of Torra's book warns of the difficulties: "Every space of power that is not occupied by one's own party tends to be occupied by its partner-opponent. Therefore, every coalition entails a daily, fierce and relentless struggle to displace each other among the governing parties of all those spaces that are possible". Torra has been the victim of a coalition that had no common objectives or external strategy, but also of a party that pushed him to the presidency but did not support him.

Asked how the negotiation to form a government is going these days, an informed source answers how it will be: "The same with a facade of management". We hope he is wrong, for the sake of the country's progress at such a delicate time, still with thousands of deaths from the pandemic and an economy in the ICU, which in 2020 fell by a historic 11.5%.

Torra, who defines himself as a Noucentista, also expresses his vision of journalism. Among other statements, with this one after an interview: "Very good journalist, he quotes Rovira i Virgili twice".

The book is interesting and even more interesting is the haste of some of the protagonists of these years to immediately write down their version of events. Perhaps this pressure for what history will say has harmed them in the day-to-day exercise of politics?