Catalan and Spanish politics are governed by a series of moral postulates. There is talk of victory and defeat. It is even pointed out that they prefer the pro-independence side not defeated but rather kneeled and asking for forgiveness. Activists – they are in all their right, but they should say it very clearly – like Pilar Rahola, insist that this is the will of the State: to destroy independence and, therefore, in their opinion, Catalonia. That dynamic is the one that offers no possibility for understanding, because it is a warlike language, of winning or losing, of succeeding or being humiliated in battle. It is the opposite of what politics needs: a healthy and dignified politics, an activity that is the most wonderful that a citizen can exercise, concerned about her society.
It is true that facts, actions, have consequences. The pro-independence segment is living it in its own flesh. There are political leaders in prison, waiting for a ruling. Everyone’s perception will dictate whether it is fair or not, but in a rule of law, that sentence must be followed. And, of course, to appeal against it in the appropriate judicial instances. Provided that the sentence is condemnatory, of course.
From that moment on, the bridges must be rebuilt. The pro-independence side must understand that rectifying the path followed mainly since 2015 has been a major mistake. Because not only the independence movement might pay the cost of its acts, but the whole of Catalan society. Rectify, admit clearly that you cannot start unilateral paths, this cannot and should not lead to the feeling of defeat. It is not a defeat. It is simply intelligent.
The idea of the independence of Catalonia for many is a real nonsense, especially when the national construction of Spain is largely due to the Catalans themselves, as historian Joan Lluís Marfany has shown. But it must be respectable. And it is legitimate that a part of Catalan society believes that this may be the future bet of Catalonia. But it cannot be precipitated, it cannot force things as it has done, it cannot drown the public space with its proclamations, it cannot consider that those who reject independence are regressive citizens, located on the extreme right and undemocratic.
The central issue is that the pro-independence side, in its private circles, in the meetings of the executives of its parties, in conclaves with heterodox, admit that the path that has been followed has been wrong. However, there are no signs of courage and clear rectification. They are unseen because the ghost of the painful defeat appears. No, nobody should be defeated. What will be achieved with that rectification is a victory of the whole so-called Catalan “people”, pro-independence included.
Now, everyone should help. And at the other side there is an actor who does not seem interested in it. Ciudadanos,, a party that generated enormous expectations after its great electoral result in the elections of December 21, 2017, can throw everything away. Language is essential. It’s basic. But the MPs of Citizens in the Parliament strive to always highlight the thickest word. The same could be said, indicating that we should not look the other way, that the pro-independence segment, a residual but effective part of it, could have made a qualitative leap with violent actions, in relation to the arrests of members of the CDRs after a lengthy judicial investigation. But no, it was decided to show images of the ETA attacks in Vic.
The pro-independence parties have erred. Some leaders such as Artur Mas are responsible for decisions that will be remembered, such as their step aside in 2015 for the CUP to mark the roadmap to the entire movement. And the current president, Quim Torra, is achieving something unthinkable just a few years ago: the systematic departure of the Catalans from their own self-government institutions. I don’t know what Josep Tarradellas would think, after safeguarding the institution from exile – the real one – for decades.
But on the other side, rectification must also be important. And it doesn’t cost so much. Without fuss, defend the separation of powers: use understandable and non-hurtful language, support constructive initiatives, and eliminate the idea of winners and defeated. And change a little the crooked gesture of those always angry faces.
What remains in the background and that, perhaps, is the saddest thing, is that in Catalonia the very mechanism of the democratic system has not been understood. There is self-government, there are Catalan institutions, great progress has been made in the national conscience itself, there is separation of powers – the old-fashioned independence leaders remember the 1992 arrests distorting all the details – and Spain is one of the most envied countries in the world for its rapid transformation into an advanced democracy. However, there is a huge mess about the conception of democracy, about votes, about self-determination, about judges and police. So little have we learned as citizens? What have young people learned when they leave class in the esplais [free time clubs]?