24/01/2021

A three-ring circus

3 min
Illustration by Mari Fouz
Available in:

BarcelonaFrom time to time the political scene seems to be occupied by the troupe of an old-fashioned circus, with a trapeze artist, an elephant, a bearded woman, a tightrope walker and a tamer. For basic reasons of prudence I invite the reader to identify who is who. The atmosphere of fanfare music, the surprising entrances and exits, and the impossible balances occupy political life today, while citizens watch the chaos whilst fighting the health and economic pandemic. The management of the pandemic is not making things easy for a democratic system that is not only imperfect but also beset by tensions that weaken it here and there. In fact, at Joe Biden's inauguration, the poet Amanda Gorman spoke of the USA as "a country that is not broken but unfinished" - the idea is useful for all democratic systems in the world, including ours.

If democracy is based, in the words of Colomer and Beale in Democracy and globalization (Ed. Routledge), on three pillars which are participation, governance, and accountability, we will conclude that our democratic health is not going through its best moment, which may have started with the sentence that blew up the Statute and continues to this day with the uncertainty regarding the elections' date, without forgetting prisons.

Right and risk

Voting is a basic right because our democracies are far away from citizens, who participate little in public affairs. In fact, in some cities such as Athens, Florence or Genoa, citizens first vote on policies and then select the delegates capable of implementing their decisions. These were leaders who implemented the assembly's designs, but today the representative government has moved considerably away from citizens, who have little control over the public sphere - other than casting a vote every four years. To trust in the self-regulation of politicians, to talk about self-control or political ethics in a country where the army leadership and the Ministers of Murcia and Ceuta behave like lazarillos using vaccines, is a naivety.

If guaranteeing participation is fundamental to democracy, the spectacle we are experiencing in Catalonia these days is somewhere between a circus and utter terror, with judges - judges in Catalan politics always go too far with their opinions, which they turn into obligations - leading the elections towards February 14 for reasons of "very intense public interest". The interest is obvious to any citizen who believes in his or her democratic right, but to celebrate these on February 14 contradicts the ability to give full security to the voting process and favour the participation of the electorate. The number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants has increased by 40% in 15 days, and those responsible for health fear an imminent collapse of the ICUs, but the reader can already get used to the idea that the parties have accepted that we will vote on the date initially planned.

The most surprising case is that of Salvador Illa, still Minister of Health, who has put the PSC's electoral strategy ahead of prudence in the management of the pandemic.

The PSOE has decided not to give away the surprise effect of the appointment of the candidate, who has the advantages that a simple message during Twitter times gives. In times of turbulence, a man who talks about building bridges and not making "reproaches", and turning Catalan society into an "enormous us", can be as tempting as an analgesic that calms but does not cure. For their part, ERC and JxCat will have to transmit complex reconstruction projects for entrenched problems, if they manage to stop campaigning against themselves.

New digital stage

To continue observing and trying to understand the three-ring circus of reality, whether it be politics, health, linguistics, international affairs, schools and universities, and in general everything that matters to us at these complex times, the ARA today culminates a year and a half's work done for readers and with readers.

From today you will have access to our new digital channels at the usual address, Ara.cat, or by updating the application. This is our usual journalism, but in a way that has never been seen before.

The change began many months ago in a process shared by the entire editorial staff and our readers, with more than 50 workshops and listening to hundreds of people. It is not just an external change but an internal transformation, a renewed digital culture with redefined workflows adapted to new needs and the new way in which you consume information. Thanks to your support and your demand, we are a newspaper passionate about innovation and positive change, and we believe in moving forward and working towards a better future.

Now, after 10 years explaining changes, we introduce you to ours, which we believe makes information clearer, more orderly, and attractive. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

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