Susana Quadrado, 2 November 2023
Image : Marta Pérez / EFE
Catalonia does not know what it wants
I am writing this article somewhat dragged down by the discouragement of a pro-independence friend with whom we used to have heated discussions some time ago. As neither of us was absolutely right, but each of us was right, we used to agree on a stalemate. A “neither for you, neither for me” “ni pa’ti ni pa’mí” that Estopa (a band) used to sing.
This time, years later, I would no longer argue with him because I couldn’t agree more: “In Catalonia we don’t know what country we want”. And he doesn’t say this because of the amnesty. Not even about the referendum yes or no, or independence yes, no or halfway, or about less prosaic issues such as financing or the transfer of Rodalies.
These are the issues that entertain the political debate, in a loop. But, in the meantime, nobody governs. Months and years go by, and major national projects remain aground like a ship adrift. An example of this was the energy debate that passed unnoticed through Parliament a few days ago. Once again we saw that Catalonia continues to be at the bottom of Europe in terms of renewables, and we have been doing so for ten years… It happens that some people here have taken a liking to setting up a platform when a project comes up. To blow it up, of course. And if it is not a platform, it is a political party interested in capitalising on the protest electorally. Or, worse, it is an institution that is wriggling out of the situation.
Every initiative generates conflict. Catalonia’s brand. Then we are surprised that various economic promoters desist from doing anything (bureaucratic hurdles aside). They get fed up. Such vitriolic ingenuity has been seen with the Winter Games, with the America’s Cup, with the fourth ring road, with policies against drought, with the expansion of the airport, with the model for the city of Barcelona. Unfortunately, the list does not end with renewable energy projects.
There is a strange phobia of basic consensus in Catalonia that has been developing for some time now, especially in the last decade. It has coincided with the ‘procés’, but not only. Dynamiting those consensuses has been the easiest way to get stuck in a deadlock. It may be that Catalan society is not as divided as it seems, but rather that it is beginning to fall victim to its own contradictions. Well, too bad.