Astrid Barrio 28 June 2021
Professor of Political Science at the University of Valencia.
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the ’president’ of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, greet each other at the ceremony of delivery of the commemorative medal of Foment del Treball, on June 7 in Barcelona. /
POOL MONCLOA / FERNANDO CALVO
Since the Council of Ministers last Tuesday approved the pardon for the pro-independence prisoners with the aim of opening a new political stage in the management of the Catalan conflict, the reactions to the contrary have not been long in coming. Vox and Ciudadanos, as they had announced, have appealed the decision. The former is considered the only legitimate party to do so, for having acted as a popular accusation during the trial, while Ciudadanos has done so individually, through Inés Arrimadas. And the PP, which does not want to be less, seeks legitimacy to do so by trying to be considered an injured party, based on a report from the Civil Guard that places it as an objective of the CDR. To the resources must be added the intention of Vox to complain against the Council of Ministers, its threat to present a new motion of censure and its request to outlaw the pro-independence parties, ignoring that for this it would be necessary to turn Spain into a militant democracy, something that can only be done through constitutional reform. The PP, for its part, has limited itself to requesting the resignation of Pedro Sánchez and submitting motions against pardons in the town halls, after the relative failure of their collection of signatures and Citizens offers to support a possible motion of censure of the PP. The three formations share arguments: the Government would have acted illegitimately, granting pardons that are seen as a betrayal of Spain and that the independence prisoners do not deserve, due to the seriousness of the facts for which they were convicted and for which they do not show repentance or ask for forgiveness. Some arguments that have been supported by the more than predictable behavior of the independence leaders after their release. Far from showing regret, something that is not mandatory for the granting of pardons, and certainly showing little empathy with non-independence Catalans, but without availing themselves, for the moment, of the slogan of ‘ho tornarem a fer’ (we will do it again), they have reiterated their objectives political, that is, the achievement of independence preferably through an agreed referendum and amnesty. None of them, however, despite considering it insufficient, has rejected the pardon or abjured the dialogue.
Faced with a hypothetical reform of the Statute, it is necessary to avoid falling into the error, as the independence movement did with the referendum, of turning the instrument into the object of dispute
And that is precisely what will be resumed a week after the granting of the pardons, with the first meeting at the highest level between the President of the Government and the President of the Generalitat in Moncloa, a meeting that will be the step prior to the reactivation of the Dialogue Table, between the Spanish and Catalan Governments. The independence agenda is clear: referendum and amnesty. Another thing is its viability. On the other hand, the agenda of the Government of Spain and that of Catalan socialism is uncertain. Iceta has expressed his wish that the result of the Dialogue Table be a federal reform. Illa, on the other hand, raises the need for a properly Catalan approach to the conflict and urges Aragonès to create a dialogue table in Catalonia, something unnecessary if the Parliament exists. Faced with such confusion, it is necessary for Catalan socialism to define its bet and if this, indeed, goes through a reform of the Statute, it must specify which aspects, in its opinion, should be reformed and what is the degree of support from the Government of Spain , and particularly the PSOE, which can take advantage of the 40th federal congress that will be held in October to make it happen.
However, the reform of the Statute should not be an end in itself. It is an instrument that can allow progress in the resolution of the conflict, which is none other than the distribution of power and money within the framework of a multilevel government system. It is by definition an inclusive, participatory, deliberative and consensual instrument. But we must avoid falling into the error, as the independence movement did with the referendum, of turning the instrument into the object of dispute. And this will only be possible if it is endowed with content and the different opinions existing in Catalonia are expressed in the debate. Also those in whose name the PP, Vox or Citizens say they speak, who should not inhibit themselves from the debate but start doing politics.