ALBERT BRANCHADELL. 30 NOV 2020
Quim Torra in Parliament. ANDREU DALMAU EFE
On November 3, Amnesty International issued a statement calling for the “immediate and unconditional” release of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, on the third anniversary of their imprisonment. In the statement, Amnesty recalled its historic report published in November 2019. In that report, and despite acknowledging that the organization had not found elements to claim that the judicial process that had been followed against the 12 Catalan independence leaders had violated the guarantees of a fair trial, Amnesty attacked the “excessive and disproportionate” nine-year prison sentence imposed by the Supreme Court on Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez and already requested that they be released “immediately”. Shortly before the Amnesty International statement, the rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe spoke on the Cuixart case in similar terms. Alexandra Louis (member of La Republique en Marche, Macron’s party), expressed her doubts about the sentence imposed on Cuixart and called on the Spanish authorities to consider releasing him on parole as soon as possible”.
As has been said repeatedly (the last was former President Montilla this Sunday), the fact that pro-independence leaders continue in prison makes it very difficult to overcome the abnormality in which Catalonia is installed since the autumn 2017. But it would be naive to think that simply their release, whatever the chosen track (review of the crime of sedition, pardon or amnesty), would dislodge the serious political conflict raised and neutralize all the symptoms of democratic abnormality. And the latest Political Opinion Barometer from the Generalitat’s Center for Opinion Studies (CEO), published on November 20, offers a lot of juice in this regard.
First of all, the CEO corroborates what was already known: since the barometers measured the assessment of the political performance of these leaders, Quim Torra will have been the worst president of the Generalitat. The 4.1 rating of this barometer is Torra’s eighth consecutive suspension, which has been below 5 every time he has been evaluated (he started with a 4.9 in June 2018, shortly after being chosen, and has ended with this humiliating 4.1 after his heroic disqualification). No previous president has had anything like this happening to him. Maragall passed the two exams in 2006. Between 2006 and 2010, Montilla passed up to 14 of the 18 assessments he underwent. Mas always got approved until he got fully involved in the mess of the procés and failed in all evaluations between November 2013 and October 2015. And while he was president, Puigdemont approved 5 times and suspended only in one. (Another thing is the Puigdemont installed in Waterloo, who started with a 5.1 but since October 2018 has chained seven consecutive suspensions.)
Beyond the sad figure of the president, the CEO also makes clear the failure of the Government of the Generalitat of the XII legislature. The CEO’s Barometer includes a question of assessment of the management of the Catalan Executive in recent months. Well, the current Government of the Generalitat has suspended all the times (eight, to be exact) in which it has been evaluated. It started with a 4.8 in June 2018 and after hitting hard a year ago with a 3.4 (before the pandemic, it has to be said) it ended with a sad 3.9.
Secondly, the CEO’s Barometer draws up an estimate of the vote for the next elections to the Parliament of Catalonia, based on sophisticated statistical calculations that include data from the direct question of voting intention. According to this estimate, the two parties that have governed Catalonia this legislature will win the elections again. If in December 2015 they added 66 seats, the CEO’s estimate now assigns them between 64 and 67, an almost identical result. (The only difference is that JxCat and ERC reverse their results: while the Puigdemontists go down from 34 to 28-30 deputies, the Republicans go up from 32 to 36-37.)
In any mature democracy bad government receives punishment from voters. Catalonia can go the other way around: after the February elections, there is a very high risk that the same coalition will govern again, the one which with its management has received such clear and repeated disapproval from the citizens.