Paola Lo Cascio June 8, 2021
Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès greet each other. / MONCLOA / FERNANDO CALVO
Paola Lo Cascio, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Barcelona
Now the initiative is in the hands of both that part of the independence movement that has been accused from collaborationist to ‘botifler’ and of those who, in the whole of Spain, are willing to question their fidelity to an idea of Spain that is a fetish
It is clear that Catalan and Spanish politics and the very intense interrelation between them have entered a new phase. The election of Pere Aragonès and his first steps in the Government are pointing towards it. Perhaps the background of a negotiation of which we will never know the scope and the concrete dynamics can one day explain more to us. For the moment, and seen from the outside, the fact is that unilateralism has remained outside the perimeter of Catalan Government: the inflammatory and rhetorical speeches have for the moment remained as the heritage of the most radicalized (and somewhat freakish) independence tweets and an ANC which has long taken on an identity, essentialist and anti-political slope to which attention will have to be paid.
On the other hand, and ignoring the ominous electoral papers signed speaking of making sanitary cordons to a social democratic party based on a dangerous ‘purity’ at the national level, in the Parliament the climate seems clearly less rarefied than in the previous legislature. There have been white-collar duels, offers to approve measures in a transversal way and more than one joke that has provoked transversal laughter. It seems silly but it is not. The outposts of deep changes are always the seemingly insignificant details.
However, the most reliable proof of this change – at least from Catalonia – may be the mutation of the messages issued by some representatives of Junts. Not so much of those -independent or governmental- from which, ultimately, agreement was expected in prioritizing management, but from those most closely linked to the figure of Puigdemont. Seeing is believing: there is an unprecedented Laura Borràs postponing independence to ten years seen in the foreign press, or the brand new vice president Puigneró speaking in ‘prime time’ and openly about the importance of the dialogue table. We have no clue as to whether they actually believe the previous declarations , the present ones, or neither. But it is not really important. The point is that it seems that, in this delicate phase, and with some speed, the framework has changed: Belgian brand irredentism disappeared to make room for economic and social reconstruction and dialogue. And the post-Convergencia guys – even the most puigdemontist, it is unknown if in coordination with the former president or not – seem to have gotten the message: if you want to play in this new game and hope to touch the ball, you have to learn the new rules.
On the other hand, there is also an absolute discontinuity not so much in the background -because the declarations of intentions have always been there-, but in the forms and rhythms in the way in which the governmental PSOE is proposing its relationship with the Catalan executive, with the independence movement and with everything that happened in the last decade, moving towards the positions that Podemos always defended together with the confluences. The PSOE, which is in the Government, moved because some of the regional presidents (not all, as demonstrated by the case of Navarra, Valencia and the Balearic Islands) and an old guard – with González as captain – who does not resist retiring and who appears every time Sánchez raises a decision of substance. But in this case there are also more than clear signs that the decision has already had its effects. While the perception is spreading that the European Union – more or less explicitly – will accompany Sánchez on this trip, the rights (or at least the two that remain without assisted respiration) propose recipes already rehearsed – from the petition tables to the photos of Colón- and in any case reactive.
It is not known how it will end. The will to sabotage by sea, land and air a principle of paradigm shift can be taken for granted by those who, on one side and the other of the Ebro, have lived politically and intend to continue living from the conflict. And yet, right now the political initiative is in the hands both of that part of the independence movement that has long since left the ‘pit i collons’ [breast and balls] and for that reason has received harsh accusations, from collaborationist to ‘botifler’, and of those who, in the whole of Spain, are willing to have their fidelity to an idea of Spain that is a fetish questioned, since so little it resembles the real country. The initiative is taken by those who have despised themselves as equidistant. And it is now when interesting things can happen for the whole of citizenship.