Milagros Pérez Oliva 1 FEB 2020
An end of the cycle has been completed this week: the end of the escape of the pro-independence sector through the unilateral route. The public appearance of President Torra certifying the break between the two government partners opens a new political time. It will depend on how things evolve that Catalonia rushes further through the chasm of political and institutional degradation, or it starts a recovery stage that returns cohesion and lost self-esteem to Catalan society. Because what began ten years ago as a problem of recognition, in the sense coined by the philosopher Axel Honneth, has become a problem of respect. In the failure of the unilateral route undertaken by the pro-sovereignty side, Catalonia has lost much more than a political battle. It has lost the ability to generate empathy and impose respect.
If self-esteem is built, as Dorothy Corkille explains in The Happy Child, a classic of child psychology, based on the reflection that returns the gaze of others, the image that Catalonia receives from the outside gaze is not exactly good. The management that the pro-independence movement has made of the conflict, far from achieving the recognition that was denied to it, has squandered the political capital achieved by Catalanism. With the act of MEP Carles Puigdemont has won a legal battle, but the war is lost. Everyone knows that it is an ephemeral victory and it is very significant that the group of The Greens has rejected him because they do not believe he has a willingness to dialogue.
What has been experienced since October 2017, with the solemn proclamation of a fictional republic, is the chronicle of an announced degradation. Junts per Catalunya acts as an anti-system party and this week’s pathetic spectacle embarrass a good part of cultural and academic elites, including those that supported independence. The last CEO certifies that 61.6% of Catalans think that this government “does not know how to solve the country’s problems”. Only 1.6% believe it is solving them.
Gone are the times when initiatives and pilot experiences were happening that attracted the interest of experts from all over the world. The first decades of self-government were marked by the will of political Catalanism to assert itself in excellence and innovation. The reflection that returned the gaze of others led to a collective feeling of self-worth that gave meaning to the constitutional pact. The development of the State of Autonomies as a federalizing device was the accepted framework. Independence was hardly an anecdote, even after “coffee for all” tried to dilute the uniqueness of historical nationalities.
Everything changed when the PP of José María Aznar arrived in Moncloa with a hidden recentralization agenda that broke the model, which, in an increasingly globalized world, was perceived in Catalonia not only as a threat to self-government, but also to the collective identity The response was a reform of the Statute that would tie the pact and allow greater capacity to decide on one’s destiny. The rejection of this route in the Constitutional Court ruling was internalized by much of Catalan society as an affront. How was it possible that a legal-political apparatus rigged with bad arts by the PP allowed itself to ignore the reasons of those who considered themselves entitled to be heard?
In conflicts for lack of recognition there is always a feeling of humiliation. That fuel led the independence to the absolute majority in a few years. Their leaders believed then that with that force they could bend a Spanish government that refused to negotiate. But they failed to manage the conflict and ended up being dragged into a unilateral spiral condemned to failure. A part of pro-sovereignty world has not yet assimilated it. And while their leaders lick their wounds, the historical adversaries of Catalanism are emboldened. The president of Madrid threatens to take the Mobile Congress and that of Andalusia announces that he will open an embassy in Barcelona to protect the 800,000 Andalusians living in Catalonia and take advantage of political instability to attract investments, while Pablo Casado demands to apply art. 155 if Quim Torra does not leave the Presidency of the Generalitat.
Catalonia has a president disabled for refusing to remove a banner that he eventually removed. A useless gesture, but when he was stripped of the MCP deputy act he intended to drag Parliament into the abyss of disobedience to which he had plunged himself through an act as symbolic as it was useless. If someone had predicted a scenario like this when self-government started, we would have said he was crazy. It will cost a lot to restore the image of Catalonia and recover lost self-esteem.