by Rosa Cullell
It was a double afternoon session at the neighborhood cinema. The first movie they cast was called A Night at the Opera and it was from the Marx Brothers. “Ufff” – we children of that time thought – “another old black and white tostón [bore]”. However, when Harpo Marx put his boot on the waitress’s tray, because the chaotic cabin of the ship could no longer fit even Groucho’s cigar, the cinema erupted in a collective laugh. Lost in the middle of the Atlantic, the passengers fought to get in and the commanders gave orders that nobody followed. The Government of Catalonia has become the cabin of the “indepes” brothers. But its misrule no longer amuses anyone.
Those who sit together at the table of the Catalan ship’s captain, the partners, criticize and annoy each other, they don’t know how to live together, but they seem condemned to sleep together. Unfortunately, the disorder and the lack of direction has infected a fragmented Parliament, practically inoperative. Citizens attend the various occurrences in amazement and try to keep their sanity in the midst of the pandemic and crisis. They open their businesses – they even learn the variations and absurd schedules -, cure their patients, go to the office, teach in schools, telecommute and renegotiate their Erte.
The Parliament of Catalonia has long ceased to have legislative weight. And three years, after 2017, since there is no Government or government project. Only tactics to going by or continuing holding power without taking into account the needs of half the passengers, those voters who do not agree with independence and, even less, with the one-sidedness of its decisions.
The decree to annul the call for 14F, and postponing it to May, in principle, or when it suits them better, seems like a proposal from Groucho Marx himself. It is a decree to counteract the exaggerated “Illa effect” and prevent them from being taking out of the cabin, forcing them to blend in with the rest of the passengers.
The result is a legal botch. Plot background? As deep as that of that Groucho contract that said: “The contracting party of the first part will be considered as the contracting party of the first part”. The Court has decided that, provisionally, the call to elections continues in force.
After the first attempt failed, the Government argues that it does not have time to organize the elections with sufficient sanitary guarantees. Time? They forget they announced the elections a year ago. “No government can function without unity among the partners”, warned former President Quim Torra on January 29, 2020, adding that the legislature “has no further path to follow”. What have they been doing since then?
The USA and Portugal have just completed their Presidential elections, with all the necessary security measures. The Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, said last Sunday: “We are in a very serious moment of the pandemic, but everything has been done so that people can exercise their right to vote”. They have reelected by an absolute majority, with an endemic high abstention, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. In the USA, more people went to vote than in any previous election call.
How long does it take to vote with a mask and keeping our distances? Between twenty minutes and half an hour on a single day in February. Less if a part of the population votes by mail and shifts are established in the multiple polling stations and tables. We are more exposed to the virus while we shop in the hypermarket or travel in a subway car or bus.
The mortal fear that the socialist Salvador Illa would win in the elections, taking votes from other parties, has infected a large part of the Parliament. Since when do surveys and polls dictate when we can / should vote? Voting happens when the electoral term is fulfilled or when the Government does not have the capacity to continue governing.
The importance given to the latest polls is still absurd. The data reflects the growing desire to vote for someone like Salvador Illa, a social democrat who neither insults nor excludes; but let’s face it: the CIS data shows 40% undecided. These are many. And the pacts, after so many years of disqualifications, are not going to be easy. One of the bases of parliamentary democracy has even been demonized: negotiation and dialogue between different people.
The pro-independence or convinced nationalists will continue to choose their own. Meanwhile, fed up and disillusioned Catalans will stay at home or opt for extremes. Others (we don’t know how many) will choose to empty those little stale cabins with moldy cigars. They will vote to stop dividing Catalonia, end patronage, return businesses and implement effective social policies. For the fresh air to flow in the boat.