The Cuevillas case: penalising debate

2 min
Carles Puigdemont, Laura Borras and Jaume Alonso Cuevillas

Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas's immediate removal from the Parliamentary Bureau by his party, JxCat, is a symptom of convulsive times in which, in the face of ideological confusion and democratic weakness, political spaces are tending towards the conservative solution of closing ranks and penalising debate. In fact, it is a tendency typical of partisan politics understood in the worst sense of the expression, a tendency that becomes extreme when the going gets tough, when the political roadmap is unsure, when the separation of powers is shaky and when anti-political populism increasingly rears its head. And when, as a consequence of all this, serious debate of ideas is feared and self-criticism is nipped in the bud.

It is in situations like this that, in order to assert a rigidity that masquerades as coherence, dissidence is penalised more than ever; not even dissent, but mere disagreement, the slightest nuance. Dialogue, no longer external, but even internal, is then seen as a danger. Discourses become radicalised, entrenched and armoured, so that the parties reward absolute loyalty above all else, without cracks, with the aim of making sure that no one departs from the official argument, marked by dissent-proof leaderships. Thinking for oneself becomes a risk. But, in reality, this way of doing politics is the very negation of politics, that is to say, of the conversational word, of the contrast of opinions, of intelligent and free dialogue. Even if unintentionally, the regime of fear is established. Whoever makes a move is cut off, as happened to Cuevillas for having expressed his views on JxCat's strategy of "intelligent confrontation", an ambiguous concept that he wanted to delimit and, in particular, to dissociate from the practice of symbolic declarations, a path that he believes brings more problems (disqualifications) than effective political benefits.

Because, in fact, this is the basic problem: permanent immolation over minor symbolism leads nowhere. The defence of the sovereignty of Parliament, and of the basic rights and freedoms under threat, cannot depend on a rhetorical gesture that, at the end of the day, provokes above all frustration and impotence among the people and which, moreover, as we have seen in the last legislature, has done nothing but generate more division and break with the essential reality principle. This principle, in the midst of the health and economic crisis due to the pandemic, should lead to prioritising efficient management and good governance. Precisely now that forming a government that responds to the pro-sovereignty majority is being negotiated, Cuevillas's reflection is pertinent and at the very least it should be able to be debated calmly, without purges or exclusions. Unfortunately, the fact of removing him from the Bureau does not help to create the necessary climate of understanding, and, really, fear of speaking the truth cannot be allowed to rule. Rather, what it does is close doors and make the atmosphere even more tense, and at the same time weaken the image that citizens have of the political class as a whole, and in this case of pro-independence politicians in particular.