Josep Ramon Bosch: “The ‘process’ as we have known is over”
The activist and politician presents his book that seeks a way out of the Catalan crisis from constitutionalism and announces that the ‘process’ enters a new phase
Josep Ramon Bosch is promoting his book. Activist, founder of Societat Civil Catalana; a scourge of independentism, founder of La Lliga Democratica, a party that wants to vindicate conservative Catalanism of a lifetime. It does not discourage him that in eight years almost 400 books on the ‘procés’ have been published, which in Catalonia has become a literary genre in itself.
Now Bosch, who in addition to promoting his book, ‘Catalonia, the false route. The Catalan problem. How to solve it and not only bear it’(Deusto), which competes, among others, against the second volume of Carles Puigdemont’s memoirs, is engaged in another battle: promoting from Catalonia the pardons for the prisoners of the sentence for the attempted sedition of October 2017.
His book, which reviews the historical foundations of independence, maintains that what has happened is a historical constant, which catalanism regularly falls into independence temptation, what it defines as “the false route”. And what it is now is that Spain finds an exciting project for all Catalans, also for those who speak in Catalan.
Question. Have you taken advantage of the pandemic to make this book?
Response. Not just the pandemic. As a historian I have tracked the mantras of nation, which are cyclically repeated in the case of Catalonia. Catalanism was a political movement that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had a project to reform Spain. The difference is that now independentism does not have a project for Catalonia or Spain.
Q. What does ‘false route’ mean?
R. The attempt to break up with Spain that periodically occurs in Catalonia. He passed with Francesc Macia, passed with Lluís Companys, passed with Puigdemont. So there is a line that joins Macia and the invasion of Prats de Molló (Macia formed armed groups that planned to take Olot in an invasion of Catalonia that ended up badly and which was aborted by the French police– the coup d’etate of Lluís Companys in 1934 and what happened in Catalonia in 2017.
It is the same false route that leads nowhere and has now placed Catalonia in a process of absolute decline. Sovereigns now insist that they “will do it again.” But it’s not true. What they want is to win the election. But the one-sided way no longer exists. In fact, the ‘process’ as we know it is over and now something else begins.
Q. How would this new phase of the ‘process’ be defined?
R. For a change of speech. Now most of the referendum is going to lose importance. Just like the idea of overflowing the state. And what they’re going to allege is that they’re going to get more than 50% of the vote in the next election. And with that legitimacy they’re going to reconstruct the story. It will not be the majority of the census but it will serve to claim a legitimate and democratic majority, while constitutionalist parties fail to put together an alternative option.
The merit of all this will be of Jordi Sánchez, who is the true mastermind of the movement, much more than Puigdemont. He’s a very smart person who’s going to be responsible for marking the new roadmap.
Q. Explained like this seems unstoppable.
R. But it is not a purposeful project but based on strengthening the various divisions that Catalonia lives, such as that of rich and poor. The rich of Matadepera or Sant Cugat are mostly independentist, while the poor of Sant Adria del Bess or Santa Coloma feel Spanish. The same goes for geography: while Girona and central Catalonia are sovereignist, the same is not the case with Barcelona, the metropolitan area or the coast of Tarragona.
The same goes for language: 80% of Catalan-speaking people align with independentist positions, while 80% of Spanish speakers do the same with constitutionalism. To overcome all this, it is necessary for the Spanish Government to develop a project that excites Catalan-speaking community.
Q. But will they have the two million votes they had?
R. Probably not. But in democratic terms that’s not what’s relevant. Polls indicate that half a million Catalans who voted for Ciudadanos in regional elections in 2017 will now stay home. There is discouragement on both sides, but abstention will punish the constitutionalist sectors more. Partly because the PSC will not recover, as much as would be expected.
The PSC remains the reference constitutionalist party, but much of the vote they lost will not return. And that’s why, for example, we’re defending from La Lliga Democratica, a party that bets on federalism, tax rebate or concerted school, for example.
Q. Is that why you’re asking for a pardon now? The pardon is not going to unite Catalonia.
R. Not in the short term. But it’ll be good to turn the-page. That’s why I asked for it. Although it is a personal initiative, not of Societat Civil Catalana, which I no longer preside over. When the state wins in such a clear way, it must be generous. The state is very strong and the pardon will only be partial, as those affected will continue to be disabled. But right now, for everyone, it’s better for the inmates to be on the street.
The pardon will serve to turn the page, argues Josep Ramon Bosch, for whom the State is to be generous after the October 2017 victory
We must alleviate the intense pain that this society feels. Besides, the crime doesn’t go away. It only affects the penalty, which is diluted. The pardon, unlike amnesty, which is what they claim, is a grace. We have been key in the process of disabling Torra, with the complaint about the banner in the Generalitat. No one can tell us we don’t trust justice. But pardon is a mechanism that is recognized in our legal framework.
Q. What will be the political consequences?
R. The pardon will not reverse what is happening in Catalonia. Ortega y Gasset said that Catalonia had no solution but was a problem that had to be put up with. The pardon serves to return to another maximum orteguiana that is to return “to things”. And that’s what Catalonia and all Catalans have to do, to return “to things.” And those things are to build the axis of the Mediterranean, reverse the march of companies, draft a Law on Languages or strengthen the capital of Barcelona, just to give a few examples.
Q. Is Catalonia’s decline that you speak of in the book inevitable?
R. Valencia will benefit from this phenomenon, as is being seen with the CaixaBank-Bankia merger. In this decade a new axis of growth is being created, which is to set aside Catalonia and which is the Lisbon-Madrid-Valencia line. In the Middle Ages it has already passed that the crisis in Catalonia was exploited by the Valencians in the time of the Borgia. These phenomena occur cyclically. The end of this decline is not seen at this time. It already happened in Quebec, where after the three referendums and the Clarity Act, the companies left and did not return. And besides, independence has not raised its head as a political movement.
Q. What will the youth do?
R. It’s one of the big unknowns. Young Catalans do not currently buy the sovereignist movement, whose mobilization depends on older people. It is true that young people have disconnected from the political struggle in Catalonia, but at the moment they have a great ignorance of Spain and of what Spain is. Therefore, it is an unknown what they will do when in a few years there is again a new sentimental jolt that invites society to break up.