PAOLA LO CASCIO
1 DEC 2020 – 16:16 CET
Carles Puigdemont and Laura Borràs.
Alea jacta est. Puigdemont’s party has just held its primary elections and Laura Borràs’ victory has been more relaxed than expected. It is not yet known what the specific formula of the articulation with the figure of Puigdemont will be, who has already announced that he will be part of the lists. In any case, the configuration of the Borràs-Puigdemont electoral tandem – which militants and most commentators consider very competitive – sends some messages that need to be taken note of.
First of all, it has been decided to try to capitalize on what for many people has been a real founding personal experience, as it was on October 1st. Putting this issue in the forefront – and beyond the fact that there is nothing like a “mandate” derived from what happened that day – is betting for emotions. According to Junts, there will continue to be a significant portion of the citizens of this country who, although the situation has changed, will continue to prioritize the adrenaline experienced that day over any management-related considerations. Many today may think it is a mistake, but the weight of emotions and “what is experienced” in politics should never be underestimated, especially those that are reaffirming as a collective in difficult times.
Second, it has been opted for leadership that does not come from the old Convergence. The attempt is to break away from an uncomfortable past in order to shake, with some possibility of success, the rhetoric of the break with the so-called “1978 regime” and, at the same time, to project a certain ideological transversality. However, we must never forget that overcoming the strictly partisan dimension, as well as the idea of ideological transversality – which almost always translates into conservative options, on the other hand – are two elements of the most precious Pujolist political culture.
Thirdly, a woman has been chosen, trying to capitalize on the new feminist common sense that, thanks to the work of many (who do not militate exactly in the Puigdemontist political space), crosses society. It has been proposed as an innovation, although it seems to be an almost due adaptation: Laura Borràs will not be the only woman candidate for the presidency, not even in the galaxy of political formations that have resulted from the implosion of post-Pujolism , since a few weeks ago the PDeCAT announced the candidacy of Àngels Chacón and, if there are no changes, Marta Pascal will also be presented with her PNC.
Fourth, Puigdemontism has opted for a clearly media figure (especially linked to social media), with a clearly populist bias. Borràs is well known and is the object of a basic veneration by the basic digital independence movement, which she herself cultivates incessantly. We must expect a political proposal adapted to this type of communication: few ideas, with little complexity, but with a high capacity for mobilization.
Fifth, it has been decided to continue insisting on projecting the concept of repression as an electoral asset. Borràs currently has a procedure open in the Supreme Court for alleged crimes of prevarication, fraud, embezzlement and forgery during her time as director of the Institution of Catalan Letters (ILC), between 2013 and 2017, and Congress already has processed the corresponding petition. She has declared himself a victim of political persecution and will have to decide whether to leave her seat in the Spanish Parliament, so that her case becomes dependent on the TSJC. If the procedure reaches Catalonia, she gains time, but loses the possibility of discursively using the scarecrow of the Supreme Court to support a story of persecution that is born weak.
Finally, Borràs’s candidacy is the concretion of ‘the worst will be the best’ of unilateralism, of the renunciation of parliamentary politics, of the symbolism taken to the extreme and, above all, of purity. Those of the Borràs-Puigdemont tandem are the “real” pro-independence activists, as opposed to those who say they are but are not, because they are willing to collaborate with “the enemy”: at the target, of course, is ERC, which has given way with its yes to the General State Budget. A discourse capable of exalting the convinced and polarizing the debate within the pro-independence world itself, collecting impulses of criticism of moderation and pragmatism that are detected in the bases of the procés, in a transversal way. It is difficult to know whether the Junts bet has options to prevail among the electorate in general and within the pro-independence electorate in particular. Even more so in an election that will be deeply marked by the pandemic, without knowing exactly what this may entail. Nevertheless, the failure or success of this candidacy will guide the part of Catalan society that has decided that, at least for the time being, it has no intention of leaving the polarization generated by the procés. For the general public, this is extremely important information.