Towards nominal pro-independence parties?

3 min
Assembly of 15-M at Plaça Catalunya, May 18, 2011.

Everything makes me think that, just as the socialist parties have long since renounced socialism without even batting an eyelid, postponing the original project indefinitely - it is even debatable whether they are still social democrats -, it is quite possible that we are on the threshold of a pro-independence parties that also postpone their objective without renouncing to the definition. That is to say, for some, independence could continue to be a theoretical ideal, but the need to keep one's feet on the ground, the possibility of governing to avoid a greater evil, the weight of other ideologically close parties or the urgency of economic revitalisation and, above all, the legitimacy that electoral victories give to any project, for the time being, would advise leaving it for other more propitious times. And it should be noted that I am only giving the positive arguments for doing so.

Comparisons, when they refer to such diverse political and historical contexts, are always forced. But political life is full of these processes of adaptation to reality. For example, we could recall the "historic compromise" of Enrico Berlinguer's Italian Communist Party in the mid-1970s with its proposal to approach the Christian Democrats and form an "emergency government" in the face of the country's political and economic crisis. The proposal gave the party its best electoral result ever, and that it was very well received by the Catalan Communist Party. Not to mention the case of the transmutation of 15-M Indignados protests into the current Podemos. And who knows if we won't see anti-capitalists backing a government that will have to make consistent policies of capitalist reactivation to get us out of the current economic standstill.

My impression - let me put it this way, with an exaggerated caution - is that this utopian independentism - which does not renounce to independence but believes that secession is impracticable - is taking shape in today's Catalan society. Proof of this is the high number of people in favour of independence who vote for parties that don't support it and all those who vote for pro-independence parties but are against it or do not know if they want it (in total, according to the latest electoral survey by the CEO, this could be around 14 per cent of voters). I also believe that this is proven by the great support this moratorium receives from an intelligentsia - in a broad and generous sense - that until the 2017 Referendum had supported independence, and that without ever saying it has given up on it, has ever since applauded its postponement sine die.

If this were so, it would call into question two arguments of force that the pro-independence movement has used until now. One, that of the supposed support of over seventy percent of Catalans for the right to decide in a referendum of self-determination. It is not easy to answer a poll saying you are against a "right". But what is not known is what one would be willing to do to defend it. On the other hand, 52 percent - not insignificant in view of the circumstances - support for parties to govern and not necessarily to achieve independence. In the last CEO survey, when deciding what party to vote for, Catalans were more concerned about the economy, corruption or climate change than the conflict with Spain. I am not saying that independence is not backed by a majority, but that many people's adherence depends on the price to be paid. In a radically democratic political world, without threats, I have no doubt it would be very high. But in the current framework of repression, understandably, faith wavers.

The only alternative to nominal pro-independence parties of the we-will-deal-with-that-later kind would be a pro-independence party capable of presenting a feasible project. But leaving aside the emphatic rhetoric, right now this project does not go beyond resisting, which, rather than desisting, is not enough to generate the necessary confidence to impose itself not only electorally, but also in individual and collective hopes.

Salvador Cardús is a sociologist