Editorial, 2 September 2022
Puigneró, Aragonès and Vilagrà watch Garriga and Ciuró before starting the meeting of Executive Council. Quique Garcia / EFE
Pere Aragonès, president of the Generalitat, will not attend this year’s Onze de Setembre demonstration, organised by the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC). The day before yesterday, Aragonès expressed his doubts about whether or not he would attend. Yesterday he decided that he would not go, in a very heated pro-sovereignty atmosphere, among other reasons, due to the unfriendly attitude of the ANC towards the parties. This attitude is reflected in the ANC’s manifesto before the Onze de Setembre, which tells its followers that they should no longer expect anything – in terms of achieving independence – from political parties and that it is time to leave them behind. Or in the aggressive declarations of Dolors Feliu, leader of the ANC, yesterday to La Vanguardia , in which she argued that the absence of Aragonès at the demonstration would mean that “he is not involved with independence”. These hostile expressions gave Aragonès an argument for not going to the march, stressing that it seemed to have been called against Catalan political parties, rather than against the state. Other presidents of the Generalitat, such as Mas, also failed to attend the demonstration. But this was for institutional reasons, not because of clashes within the independence movement.
This episode takes the division of the pro-independence forces to a new level and, therefore, favours their retreat. This division is evident among the main parties, within the Government, in the conflicts and personalities that disrupt the normal functioning of institutions such as the Parliament, etc. The pro-independence formations and organisations and the pro-independence movement have been divided for institutional reasons. Sovereigntist formations and entities sigh in their proclamations for unity, but then continually undermine it with their attitudes. This division has reached a higher level by reaching a demonstration that in its peak year (2014) brought together, according to its organisers, 1.8 million people. And which since then has been losing steam, whether due to the lack of tangible results, the pandemic, or the disenchantment of so many of the faithful, fatigued and demotivated by the leaders’ quarrels.
Pere Aragonès will not attend the demonstration called by the ANC
If the regrettable events of 2017 served any purpose at all, it was to bring realism to the fore. The Spanish state made it clear that it was not going to tolerate its dismemberment, nor was it going to allow the alteration of the constitutional order or leave unpunished crimes committed by people who, in the exercise of public responsibilities, had attempted against that order. ERC understood this and embarked on the path of dialogue, which, by the way, had already earned Aragonès and Oriol Junqueras – who had been pardoned and free for three months at the time – resounding boos and accusations of betrayal of the cause at last year’s demonstration. For the mere fact that after attempting the unilateral path, he had seen that he had come up against an insurmountable wall and, without renouncing his objective, he had to try different ways of accessing it.
Other political forces, such as Junts and the CUP, and organisations such as the ANC and Òmnium, resist this reality check and insist on unilateralism, on confrontation with the state and on blocking institutions such as the Parliament, despite knowing that it is not just another appendage of their party, but a body at the service of all Catalans. But when it comes to providing feasible alternatives, they enunciate populist solutions of uncertain effect to “achieve” independence. In the manifesto of the ANC – an entity that presents itself as “the force that moves everything” – we read that “the strength of the people is the only one that will achieve the liberation of the country”. Time will tell whether this is true or not. In the meantime, it is a clear fact that the division has reached the Onze de Setembre march, the most cherished expression of independence.