June 30, 2021
Whoever lives by illusions, will die of disappointments”, runs the saying, and it is good advice that everyone should apply, both constitutionalists and separatists, for the new stage that is opening in Catalonia. The ICPS survey that Crónica Global was referring to yesterday gives the keys to understanding the new scenario in which secessionist passion continues to decline since 2017. Although in the polls the vote in favor of an eventual independence is still around 45%, only a smaller and smaller minority thinks it possible. As an illusion, it will remain strong among those who mobilized during the procés and lived those years with adolescent emotion, but as a political claim it is being deactivated, especially among the electorate of ERC. Now, that does not mean that there will be an agreement at the dialogue table between the Spanish Government and the Catalan one. Yesterday Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès agreed on the schedule for the disagreement, but, above all, the scaffolding for the return to a certain normality.
In territorial politics the positions are irreconcilable. Republicans will never give up a referendum, while the other party will remain in the “neither want nor can” that Mariano Rajoy has already spoken in front of Artur Mas. And that is what Pedro Sánchez has said to Pere Aragonès, no matter how much from the right it is suggested that pardons are the first step to give the pro-independence crew what they want. It is the other way around, the measure of grace is the only significant political gesture that the Government could make to Catalan society sensitive to sovereignty. They are partial pardons, criminally cheap, because the worst of the prison has already been eaten, which strengthen the image of Spanish democracy abroad, and now allow us to demand that they take some step within Catalonia, such as, for example, returning to call the parties’ table, as claimed by the PSC, and to which both Cs and PP have said they would attend if it is done in Parliament.
The forms and tone will improve, mejorar, as was seen with the presence of Pere Aragonès at the Mobile gala dinner with the King, but as the ingenious bullfighter Rafael Guerra said, “what cannot be, cannot be, and it is also impossible”. It is one thing that the polls endorse the dialogue, and another that this dialogue only serves to verify what we already know, that there is an unbridgeable abyss, but that the only alternative is to live refusing to accept each other and causing mutual damage. The independence movement is exhausted and chastened, and not only because of the deprivation of liberty and the disqualifications, which is the case also, but because in the end the leaders risk their personal assets, as the former minister Jordi Baiget clearly saw in July 2017 when he stated, “I could endure prison, but not if they go against the patrimony”. Carles Puigdement struck him down and a crisis broke out within the Government that was one short of derailing the 1-O referendum and precipitating new elections. He is sure that these days, faced with the distress over possible seizure orders from the Court of Auditors, many will have regretted not having taken advantage of when opportunities arose to avoid the unfortunate autumn of the procés.
On the other side, neither the Sánchez government can do anything other than buy time and secure his support in Congress. It is not a small thing to enjoy two years of institutional truce and return to normality, which will allow the socialist leader to go to the next elections as the “peacemaker” of the conflict in Catalonia, even if it is in the form of deep-frozen. Meanwhile, in addition to addressing the distribution of European funds, the Prat issue or the necessary revision of the regional financing model, what will be launched with enthusiasm are the mixed State-Generalitat commissions. This is where the real advances will take place, which will serve to verify that the claims that both Mas and Puigdemont raised to Rajoy in the matter of self-government and that in 2020 Quim Torra raised the famous 44 points to Sánchez, are attentive or negotiable almost in their whole. And that will be very useful for both executives when explaining in two years’ time that, despite the gulf that separates them, the dialogue has been fruitful to unravel important issues.
Does it mean that we are about to enter a stage of full normality, as if the procés no longer exists? Obviously not. The secessionist impulse will continue to operate, and from time to time the rambling speeches will return like that of Oriol Junqueras the day before yesterday (“independence is a duty”), with one good and one bad. From the Catalan government they will always be dissatisfied, but they will not disobey even remotely. The Catalan constitutionalists will not be happy with the new situation either, we will continue to feel marginalized, invisible for the Government and its propaganda machine, but divided as we are because of the savagery running through Spanish general politics, we have no better alternative. If someone wondered what the maximum normality that could one day be achieved in Catalonia would be like. He now already knows. Normality is this.