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Those who might think that an 'exemplary' sentence is part of the solution to the Catalan question are mistaken; and very much so

Tuesday, 10/08/2019 – 20:49

The ruling of the Supreme Court against social leaders and pro-independence politicians will close a political cycle and open another one. It remains to be seen if this new cycle will be oriented to leave the well where we are now trapped or, on the contrary, will continue digging to deepen the institutional crisis in which we have been immersed for several years. In any case, and from the political and legal point of view, the sentence will be historical. On this occasion the adjective is not useless.

On the one hand, the sentence will determine the criminal consideration of the events occurred in October 2017. If the sentence confirms the charges of the investigating judge and the prosecution of rebellion and sedition, the harshness of the penalties will leave a scene very difficult to manage regarding the political conflict between Catalonia and the state. On the other hand, if the sentence moves in this direction, it will incorporate a legal conception of the idea of violence ​​extremely broad and, therefore, very disturbing for a democratic system that necessarily always requires ways to channel social unrest and alternative projects to the current order. Political or legal authoritarianism have never solved any problem. Quite the opposite. Authoritarian responses either aggravate the problem or delay its solution. Those who might think that an ‘exemplary’ sentence is part of the solution to the Catalan question are mistaken, and very much so.

Few reasons for optimism

As of today we have few reasons for optimism. The sentence will interfere in the election campaign of the fourth Spanish elections in the last four years. It will be the most relevant and impressive political event of the moment and will set the tone and content of the Spanish electoral time. At the moment, the bulk of the Spanish party system has decided to compete in the field of the heavy hand against pro-independence. In any case, the Catalan issue explains the blockade of the Spanish political system, since the loss of the absolute majority by the PP of Rajoy in 2015, and will continue to be the first political problem at the table of the next president of the Government of Spain.

But, in addition, the irruption of the issue of violence, a few days before the sentence, through the so-called Judas operation, headed from the National Court, has once again rarefied, if it was not enough already, the social and political environment. The irregularities of the arrests, the interested leaks that the prosecution has already requested to investigate, the spectacular nature of the police operation and the disproportionate accusations of the National Court have shocked large sectors of Catalan society. It will be necessary to see what remains of all this in the end, but the crisis of confidence of a part of the country with the institutional system has worsened. And all this has allowed that, in an absolutely irresponsible way and in the context precisely of the electoral campaign, Spanish political leaders speak with enormous frivolity of violence in Catalonia. It would seem as if some of these leaders expected, effectively and as true sorcerer’s apprentices, a violent derivative of the independence movement to strengthen their electoral group and legitimize their radicalized and incendiary discourse.

A new cycle

The awkwardness of some independence leaders and the lack of effective leadership in the movement has made their job easier. To the extent that the risk of violent overflow always exists in any conflict, the political position of the pro-sovereignty parties against any hint of violence must be of total forcefulness, without any ambiguity, and pedagogy by the political leadership in favor of a democratic political action and civility and respect for the other, as defining attitudes of the country’s mood, constant and continuous.

As I said, the ruling will start a new cycle. True. It should be the cycle of coming back to politics, not that of continuing confrontation and blockade. A new cycle to address the democratic and comprehensive solutions that the country needs. New proposals, in Catalonia, begin to exist. Proposals with which, without giving up anything, exits to the conflict, without winners or losers, are sought for. In Spain, for the moment, we don’t hear or read about them. In this context, if politics is what suits us, politics must find ways out of the judicial consequences of the sentence. Amnesty, pardons, the reform of the Criminal Code must be part of the solution. With prisoners, everything we need to do becomes almost impossible.

* Ex-MP in the Spanish Congress.



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