Lluís Foix, 2 December 2020
Xavier Muñoz Pujol, businessman and politician
In Memoriam 20 February 2022
“Federalism is the only way to solve the Catalan-Spanish confrontation”.
Hundreds of books have appeared on the ‘procés’ that has monopolised Catalan and Spanish politics over the last ten years. There are books for all tastes and trends. Journalism has provided many titles, to which have been added the personal accounts of the protagonists, lawyers and politicians of various tendencies, those who are still in prison and those who defend independence from abroad. These are the essential drafts of the story of the future.
An interesting contribution has just appeared that many Catalanists will share, although at this point I don’t know whether declaring oneself a Catalanist is a risk factor or simply a politically incorrect concept that has disappeared from the imaginary of Catalan politics, in which nuances have been absorbed by the barrier between pro-independence and others. Xavier Muñoz presents Després de Waterloo, a critique of the pro-independence ‘procés’ from the perspective of Catalanism.
Xavier Muñoz offers a cold and uncomplicated critique of the pro-independence ‘procés’ from the perspective of political Catalanism.
Xavier Muñoz has a long career as a businessman in the textile sector who has also shown great interest in issues that affect the defence of Catalonia and its freedoms. Together with Jordi Pujol and others, he founded the mythical CC, a clandestine movement with Catholic and Catalanist roots that kept alive the torch of criticism of the regime in the hardest times of Franco’s regime. Over time, it gradually distanced itself from Pujolism to the point of sharing Pasqual Maragall’s ideas and discourse, moving towards an identity-based federalism in the tradition of the Catalan left.
Xavier Muñoz situates the three approaches to the future of Catalonia in the pro-independence path, the federalist path or the path of compromise. The three ways out are today an unknown quantity and, above all, a desperate bet, although he is inclined towards the federal option.
Any analyst, even the most passionate, will agree that the ‘procés’ has gone badly so far in the judicial, political and, above all, economic spheres. Muñoz twice quotes a sentence by lawyer Xavier Melero on a TV3 programme: “The disruptive capacity of pro-independence is infinite and contrasts with its ineffectiveness”. Being realistic and compassionate, we can deduce that the management of the ‘procés’ has been very negative judging by the results. Once again, says the author, we are once again a dissatisfied and disunited nation, with no common strategy for our national future.
What has happened in Catalonia and Spain over the last ten years is irrational, judging by the apriorisms and emotions that have justified political actions in both Madrid and Barcelona. He is blunt with the Catalan socialists when he states that “the absence of critical thinking towards pro-independence, specifically the ‘procés’, on how it has developed on the part of non-sovereignty Catalanism, is also an irrational unknown”.
One miscalculation by Artur Mas was when he made very clear his intention to leave Spain in the certain hope that it would almost automatically become a new state in Europe. Without counting either on the Catalan social majority or, of course, as we have seen, on the hostility of the State to a part of its territory unilaterally breaking away from Spain. “I believe that independence, with its frivolity, has taken for granted that there is no other way out of the Spanish labyrinth than to leave Spain…. Couldn’t the serious possibility of a federal state in line with the Catalanist and republican tradition have been considered right from the start?
After seeing what has happened in recent times, “I dare to believe that the coordinates for a Catalan policy that is more profitable for this country must be more pragmatic than rhetorical”. Muñoz laments that Puigdemont and Torra are more concerned with keeping tensions high than with resolving the conflict. Candidate Laura Borràs has been very explicit in saying that “those who make agreements with non-independence parties are not working for independence”. The warning is directed at the ERC that Gabriel Rufián has spoken out in Congress and that has made possible the approval of Pedro Sánchez’s general state budgets. Independence, it is understood, takes precedence over social, health, economic or any other issue, with the result that divisions in Catalan society will increase and the possibilities of a pact with Spain will become more unaffordable.
The complexity and pluralism of Catalan society are difficult to manage. There are ERC voters, Puigdemont voters who will be picked up by Laura Borràs, those with non-independent Catalanist tendencies, those with diverse non-Catalanist affiliations and those who are clearly Spanishist. If we cannot find a common denominator to ask ourselves who we are, we could go down a step and look for the nexus of union between all of us in Catalanism. We must not find the ideal solution, which does not exist, but the best possible one.