Marcel Vidal – 2/4/2021
Image: Catalan MPs during the investiture debate
The investiture debate of Pere Aragonès as candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat showed, once again, that there are currently many political positions on what direction Catalonia should take in the coming years. The future president and the future government will have to take into account this plurality of political options if they want to start to heal the wounds of recent years.
For this reason, it is very surprising that Aragonès, although he emphasized the existing political diversity, addressed almost all of his speech to the pro-independence groups. It is true that the ERC candidate’s will is to govern with JxCat and the CUP, but his speech was not to lead a pro-independence assembly but to preside over the Catalan government. It is not very compatible to want to be the president of all the citizens of Catalonia and, at the same time, to propose a “national agreement for amnesty and self-determination.”
The electoral results of last February 14 show that there is no unanimity in Catalan society on whether or not pro-independence prisoners should be in jail (with the understood that it is the judiciary and not the citizens who decide on that). The current Catalan chamber shows that there are, broadly speaking, three positions: the pro-independence, the status quo (PP, Cs and Vox) and the pardons and or the reform of the crime of sedition (PSC and Comuns).
While it is true that the amnesty route is the one with the most parliamentary support, the proposition that politics has tools so that pro-independence leaders can be out of jail (but that they are not there because of their political ideas) is what has grown the most: it has gone from 25 seats to 41 (although a sector of the commons is closer to the independentists than to the socialists on this issue).
On the contrary, the maintenance of the status quo, that is, that Congress does not reform the crime of sedition or that the central government can grant pardons, has lost 20 seats, since in the previous legislature PP and Cs added 40 parliamentarians.
The pro-independence leaders are perfectly aware that the amnesty has no place in the current legal and political framework because they know that the votes that were approved in Parliament in 2017 stepped on the rights of minorities, did not have the necessary support and violated both the Statute of Catalonia as the Spanish Constitution, our frameworks of coexistence. This does not mean, however, that the departure of the independence prisoners would favor the political task in Catalonia. Now, it would be good for them to commit themselves, whether or not they are finally pardoned, to achieve their political goals through legal, that is, through democratic channels.
It is true that neither the granting of pardons nor the reform of the crime of sedition does not depend on either the Catalan chamber or the Catalan government, but the electoral results indicate that if the independence movement adopts more flexible and realistic positions it could reach agreements with some parties non-independentists that favor coexistence, reduce tension and move towards the necessary reconciliation.
But for this to happen, the independence movement has to make a 180 degree turn and stop belittling and vetoing the PSC. The tone and the criticism against the Catalan socialists are surprising due to the situation of those imprisoned when Miquel Iceta already pointed out the possibility of pardon during the 2017 electoral campaign.
A community is not built on resentment, hatred, or contempt. If the Parliament ends up electing a president in the next few days, he will have the enormous challenge of building bridges between the independence sphere and the one that is not. Failure to do so would lead us back into the abyss.