21/02/2021

Strange bedfellows

3 min
Estranys bedfellows
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Good old Groucho Marx used to say that it wasn't politics that made strange bedfellows, but marriage. As always, he was right, but this is not today's topic. The subject is the complex politics of alliances that is straining Spanish politics and the no less bizarre alliances that may be forged in Catalonia in the coming weeks and their dangerous consequences. Which partners will form the government of Catalonia at a time when the worst economic crisis is still in pandemic proportions after a year of exhaustion, with political prisoners and young people sitting on a powder keg?

The neighbour's beard

In Spain, the agonizing results of the electoral repetition made Pedro Sánchez forget his insomnia problems when he was thinking about Pablo Iglesias, but the will of understanding is not enough and today the wear and tear of the coalition government is reaching unsustainable levels in the medium term.

Every day it becomes clear that the coalition was built without a coherent government program, and that Unidas Podemos tries to survive the bear hug aware that, in the words of Iglesias to ARA, "it is not the same to govern as to be in government". The public disloyalty is mutual, because while the PSOE and UP are oil and water on economic and security issues, they also fail to make clear progress on civil rights issues, nor on the Catalan dispute. In these circumstances of deadlock, the electoral bill for UP in the Galician, Basque and Catalan elections seems to have made Pablo Iglesias reach the conclusion that either he sets a profile and tightens the rope to achieve results, or he will be neutralized electorally.

The real problem is not the excitement caused by his words about the imperfection of democracy in the media cavern and among the socialist partners; the underlying issue is that there is no prior negotiation between the two partners to bring the bills to Parliament with prior agreement, but they are leaked to the press beforehand to mark profile and then they accuse each other of disloyalty on key issues such as laws on equality, the trans law, or the housing law. The coalition thus becomes an unproductive permanent competition.

Opportunism

In Catalonia, the election results have once again placed ERC and JxCat at the stumbling block of reaching an agreement to govern the country. To begin with, the Republicans have approached the CUP to cool down the demands of JxCat, the now inevitable partners with whom they have devoted themselves to torturing each other during the legislature. The coincidence of the start of negotiations to form a government with the riots in several Catalan cities over the imprisonment of Hasel has made it clear that we are heading straight for a new lost legislature if the opportunists are not removed.

Governing public finances, fighting for opportunities for economic growth and guaranteeing the security of citizens is not a game of frivolity or narcissistic competitions. To be specific: it is desirable and it is possible to improve the law and order model, it is advisable to ban the use of foam bullets, and internal investigations must be transparent and have consequences, but it is not possible from the political leadership to make an amendment to the work of the police in its entirety. No real and therefore complex country has ever been able to afford to do without a police force that guarantees rights and duties to citizens who aspire to live in a peaceful community.

Pere Aragonès has the opportunity to preside over the Generalitat, but ERC will have to decide what price it is willing to pay and in what term. To decide whether to govern responsibly and with its sights set on economic reconstruction when it has to fight for European funds that can change the country in terms of sustainability, digitalisation and equality, or to be trapped in the sidelong glance and feed back into the ideological purity competitions on Twitter or popularity contests.

JxCat, through its secretary general, Jordi Sànchez, has offered "absolute loyalty to the agreements that are built". It is time for both sides to sit down to negotiate with the respect that the citizens deserve and the realism that a calm analysis of the last few years of government deserves.

Catalonia has voted in the majority for the centre-left in terms of ideology and has rewarded positions that are willing to engage in dialogue at the national level. The course has been set by the ballot boxes and the country cannot afford, if it does not want to miss the train of economic recovery, to be trapped in a government that repeats the disloyalties, the vacuum of power, the lack of shared objectives, the advantageousness, and the frivolity of many moments of the previous legislature.

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