A motorcycle flagged in the Diada of 2012. JOAN SÁNCHEZ
With three months to go before the Catalan elections, the discursive framework in which they will be held has already been proposed. Voters will elucidate which front they trust to manage post-pandemic Catalonia: Catalanism or pro-independentism. A scheme far removed from that of 2017, where a choice was made between endorsing the illegal referendum and the proclamation of October and the legitimacy of the deposed president of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, or defending the permanence in Spain with different degrees. The dilemma favored the extremes: the catchment of JuntsxCat -if you vote for us, Puigdemont will return- and that of Ciudadanos, the option that rather represented in the emotional field the rejection of the independence adventurism.
In these three years the independence movement has fragmented and has lost orientation. Its weavers of stories have been unable to trace a way out of the labyrinth. The simplest option would have been to correct themselves and undo part of the way, although this implied withdrawing a generation of politicians that is not willing. In the theoretical field, Enric Marín and Joan M. Tresserras are the ones who have gone the furthest by proposing a cartography in Obertura republicana (2019).
The independence movement has lost orientation. Its storytellers have been unable to get out of the labyrinth.
In the practical sphere, ERC’s left-handed flank has rehearsed an exercise in political funambulism: combining the amendment without posing it as such, maintaining the leadership. This option went through an alliance with the Comuns, for now impossible after the failure of the Maragall-Colau pact in Barcelona and due to the reluctance of a sector of the party -much less of the electorate- reluctant to agree with non-independence formations (ERC -Comuns, the impossible front, 08/15/2020). Hence ERC’s commitment to renew the current ill-assorted marriage, with the hope of piloting it from the presidency.
Along with the pro-independentism disorientation, the pandemic has opened a new scenario that seems to place socioeconomic management at the same level as the resolution of the political conflict. The PSC, hoping to recover fearful voters in 2017 who sought refuge in Ciudadanos, stands as the axis of the Catalan alternative with the Comuns at one end and the Lliga Democràtica, Lliures, Convergents and Units per Avançar at the other.
This center-right -with personal ties to the socialist milieu- aims to capture the vote of the mythical 300,000 moderate voters who are supposedly party orphans. For this, something similar to a single list of Catalanism has been studied, with figures or with an electoral coalition that allows these formations to enter Parliament.
However, the need to orchestrate a candidacy with PSC conveys an image of little confidence with the scope of the project itself; it raises doubts for wandering orphans about what room will be left to pursue conservative policies; and it moves socialism away from the center-left.
The Catalanist front also trusts that the moderates PDeCAT and PNC will scratch votes for JuntsxCat and weaken the most intransigent segment of the pro-independence movement. Its electoral hook is beyond anyone’s guess. Without a clear stance, the converted independentist will doubt whether their vote will be used to anoint a Catalanist, which will condition their decision.
The Catalanist front has a disparity of solutions – among which federalism – that have not yet materialized
According to the surveys, it is assumed that the management of the pandemic will weigh when voting. It will, but the advantage of the Catalanist front in this area – due to participation of PSC and Comuns in the government of Spain – is limited. For the elector to discern between governments when in March the virus did not understand territories and half a year later it does, it will not be easy.
Without being able to play this option fully, Catalonia’s fit in Spain (recognition and pecuniary issue) will continue to be in the foreground. In this field, the pro-independentist movement has an advantage: its horizon is clear even if it does not know how to get there. On the contrary, the Catalanist front has a disparity of solutions -among them federalism- that have not yet materialized (with respect to a proposal for the distribution of powers, for example).
Just as the pro-independence movement is immune to self-criticism because it has plenty of syllogisms, Catalanism is so convinced that its framework and management capacity in the short term are so realistic that it spends a lot of energy in pointing out the nonsense of others instead of clarifying its own proposal . Catalanism has lived a long century of ambiguities, contradictions and misunderstandings. Whether it is considered to be part of it or not, the pro-independence movement can be understood precisely as a product of this exhausting and not always efficient Catalan dynamic, a clamor that encompasses a simple idea that does not see a realization in the alternative.