To build a table
Sitting at the table is a gesture of civilisation, and the next two years of Catalan and Spanish politics will unfailingly depend on what happens at one or several tables. Whether the dialogue will be more of a success than a failure will depend on the internal cohesion of each of the parties to accept resignations, but above all on the ability to make the mechanism of dialogue work without breaking down. With the figure of the rapporteur already forgotten, the two governments will have to weave a trust that has been stubbornly destroyed over the last decade and that has now made a breakthrough with the release of political prisoners.
Agreement in disagreement
The first step in building the negotiating table will be to agree on what the disagreements are and to establish acceptable rules of the game. In yesterday's ARA, Vicenç Fisas published an article entitled "L'incert futur de la taula de diàleg" (translated as "The uneasy future of the dialogue table"), in which the peace and conflict analyst listed a decalogue of necessary conditions before starting a negotiation. In addition to conditions linked to the capacity for dialogue, the article warns that zero-sum solutions must be ruled out (one wins and the other loses) and the contradictor must be recognised as a valid interlocutor, and recommends a single voice in the defence of one's own agenda and the capacity to avoid blowouts.
If the optimum is to comply with these premises, today it is very difficult to foresee solid and satisfactory advances for both sides. In addition to the great distance between their positions, the two negotiating parties have important internal disagreements. Both within the PSOE and within the Catalan government, where one side considers the negotiation as a tactical and not a strategic issue, and could be tempted to anticipate with its null expectations the failure of a dialogue that is really extremely complicated.
In addition to the difficulties of the two governments, the main enemy of a stable historical solution, that is, one that is capable of getting to the heart of the matter - which is none other than the territorial architecture of Spain and the conviction of part of the Catalans that there is nothing to be done to maintain a loyal and progressive relationship with the State - is the Partido Popular. An agent that will try to sabotage the rapprochement, whether in Madrid or in Catalonia. If the Catalan PP were capable of defending territorial interests as the Basque PP did, for example, with regard to financing, perhaps it would have a role other than that of irrelevance today. But years ago the Popular Right lost the capacity of influence it had with Josep Piqué, and today it is a victim of the homogenisation of the party, of the competition with Vox and of the parachute marquisate of Álvarez de Toledo. The Partido Popular has progressively lost its capacity for representation in Catalonia by nurturing a homegrown madridism, a Spanish nationalism rooted in populism. The ideological competition with Vox, the Aznar-Ayuso axis and the exercise of the opposition as if it were a boxing match do not allow for an agreed territorial reform. It would only be possible if there were an internal revolt of the PP's peripheral parties beforehand, an audacity that is unimaginable today. Thus, the political virulence of the PP is marked by the Aznarist sector, which sacrificed Catalonia on the altar of traditional patriotism and continues to profit from the "a por ellos" policy ("Let's go after them"), at the risk of losing even the business community.
An anti-business right wing
He asks for discretion, like so many other businessmen who are asked for their opinion. He is one of the big ones, who exports, keeps his headquarters in Catalonia and employs thousands of workers in several countries. A moderate Catalanist, he confesses to being an "orphan" and says he is "as distanced from independence as he is from those who do not understand what is happening". Among those who do not understand where we are, he places the PP of inflamed oratory that treats Catalan businessmen as suspects of treachery. Perhaps simply because of this accent that is so annoying to monolinguals, or because the simple fact of understanding the Catalan reality places them at an uncomfortable distance. The businessman represents very well those who arouse Aznar's anger. He looks at Europe and the world and neither needs to take part in Court hunts nor sells intercoms. But like all big companies, his needs the Official State Gazette.
The distance between Catalan businessmen and the PP became clear at the Cercle d'Economia with the support for pardons and the request for a Spain that is more German than French, less radial and more decentralised. Ayuso's moves to participate in the table of autonomous communities to talk about funding, in those days, were unsuccessful and Casado's pressure on Garamendi to qualify his support for pardons had limited results. The response was directly insulting.
The big businessman says that "both sides don't give a damn about the business fabric", before concluding that, despite everything, "there is no other possible way than to try to dialogue".
Esther Vera is Editor-in-chief of the ARA