By Ignasi Guardans, former Catalan Member of the Spanish Parliament and the European Parliament.
The Catalans will be called to the polls on February 14 to renew their parliament. – Reuters
On February 14, at eight o’clock in the morning, and for twelve hours, ballot boxes distributed throughout Catalonia will receive ballots to decide the composition of its next Parliament. Only the masks and health precautionary measures within the framework of the Covid will make this exercise slightly different from the other elections which have taken place in our territory, and in the whole of Spain, since the return of democracy more than 40 years ago.
The collective will of the Catalans will once again decide on their government, while respecting the solid freedoms guaranteed by the Spanish Constitution. And – as we already know – these elections will once again show the enormous political complexity of a society very rich in history and very diverse in its composition.
We will see, of course, the election of representatives who demand a break with the rest of what is now called Spain. And we will see the votes of other forces elected who do not believe that such a rupture could contribute in any way to improving the lives of Catalans. Voices which, although following different ideological patterns, base their political offer on something more than the debate on identities; on other priorities, common to those which worry citizens everywhere in Europe: who and how can better manage this pandemic? How are we going to get out of this huge crisis that has destroyed much of the foundations of our economy and our jobs?
But as it is easy to understand, the press or the leaders of other countries sometimes have a little difficulty discerning what is at stake in what is going on inside a distant society that they know little about. In the particular case of Belgium, it may also be that welcoming certain characters in constant search of local notoriety could contribute to distortions and distortions of perspective.
The first political frontier of those who stand for the Catalan elections will not be drawn between those who are for or against the respect of the constitutional system, but rather between those who give priority to the social conflict as the only political discourse and those who have proposals to make (more right or more left) to build and manage a collective future better than this dangerous and sad present.
Move forward by working together
This is where the first battle is played out and the one which so deeply divides the field of independence. And this collective future, no one, no party will be able to impose it. We will have to work together, through various sensitivities, if we want to move forward and build anything positive. We have a deeply divided society: it is a fact. Political leaders are in prison for acts which knowingly violated criminal law, but which no doubt had the support of a very large section of the population. Millions of Catalans – as deeply rooted in our country as the families of the most radical separatists – reject any idea of political, economic or social rupture with the other peoples of Spain with whom we have consolidated links for centuries. In addition, it is not a question of two blocks, as one sometimes falsely tries to present it. Rather, it’s a whole palette of colors and political sensibilities, certainly not a football game with hooligans on either side.
The other big determining element of these elections is to see who proposes to work with a will to create bridges, for generous dialogue in the respect of the laws (but also with the legitimate will to review and change them) and who, on the other hand, prefers “confrontation”, constant collision, all or nothing; populism, in short, which prefers to hide reality, always complex and nuanced, and navigate the waves of emotions built on permanent tension and promises that we know are impossible. This second option, unfortunately, is still there; it is also the option that claims to present an imaginary country and society, which does not exist. It is a local adaptation of what we have known well across the Atlantic, a sort of “make Catalonia great again”, in which they would be the only true patriots in combat with infidel traitors allied to an external enemy, presented as the cause of all evil.
The friends of Catalonia and Spain in Europe can always make their contribution if they want to and have sympathies for the causes of some or the battles of others. But, between Democrats, we can ask something: never support arsonists. No, the future of Catalonia can never pass through a speech of confrontation, whether it is preached in Barcelona or from the sheltered comfort of Waterloo.