Albert Branchadell 06/’0/2020
As date of Catalan elections approaches -although unknown but increasingly urgent to fix it, curiosity grows to know how Puigdemont’s party will articulate this new device called “intelligent confrontation”, and of course also curiosity grow to know how much combative sovereign vote will be inside pro-indepedence movement opposed to the panoply of pragmatic pro-independence options that are looming on the horizon.
The bet for an “intelligent” confrontation with the State suggests that there may also be an unintelligent confrontation; what is not clear is whether the train crash of 2017 belongs to the first category or the second. Whether it is intelligent or not, what is certain is that the confrontation of three years ago evidenced a fundamental strategic error: the lack of awareness of the deficit of legitimacy that the pro-independence movement dragged since it lost the plebiscitary elections of September 27, 2015. Jordi Muñoz exposes, undoubtedly one of the most brilliant analyzes on the Catalan process, a thesis in his book “Principle of Reality”, without fear to be called traitor or “botifler”, despite the manifest partiality of the author, who confesses without ambiguity that his book is written “from sovereignty”.
Muñoz recalls that the independence movement, in Catalonia, has never exceeded 50% of the votes. It did not succeed in the 2015 plebiscites, it did not succeed in the 2015 general elections or in the repetition of 2016, it did not succeed in the dramatic December 2017 elections, it did not succeed in the two general elections of 2019, or in the municipal elections. of the same year, nor in the European ones. That is, it has not achieved it in any of the last eight elections.
According to Muñoz, overcoming the 50% barrier is an absolutely necessary condition to build an alternative political power with sufficient internal and external legitimacy. The thesis is crystal clear, but it deserves a reproach, which is the fixation on 50% of the votes cast. If we ask the independence movement -as Muñoz wants- to generate a widely shared and recognized decision-making space, it is possible to consider more demanding criteria. In this sense, and without serving as a precedent, it must be recognized that President Quim Torra was partly right when two years ago, during the presentation of the Council for the Republic, he appealed to the “Slovenian route.” We are not referring, of course, to the advisability of starting a war or registering, even a small one, a certain number of fatalities. We refer to founding the independence cause in which Artur Mas called years ago “qualified or reinforced majorities”, which then, in his opinion, were the only ones that could give the independence movement “all the necessary legitimacy and strength”, while allowing to avoid “divide society into two halves, with the risk of social fracture that this entails.”
According to the Slovenian law that regulated the referendum of December 23, 1990, the approval threshold was 50% of the electoral roll, not of the voters. With 90% participation and 95% affirmative votes, the point is that Slovenian independence was approved by 86% of the census. With a census of 5.6 million people, applying the Slovenian route in Catalonia would mean that the independence movement would achieve at least 2.8 million votes, and 4.8 million would be necessary to fully emulate.
The maximum bar for the pro-independence vote was set in December 2017, with 2,079,340 ballots. In none of the four subsequent elections has this figure been equaled. Now we could ask ourselves if the independence movement as a whole will manage not only to equalize, but to exceed this figure to approach the 2.8 million of the Slovenian road. But it is possible that talking about independence as a whole no longer makes much sense. The next elections are acquiring the air of a plebiscite that will no longer be between independence yes and independence no, but rather between the confrontation postulated by Puigdemont’s party (and which the CUP will foreseeably support) and any other political strategy. In this sense, you don’t have to be a very conspicuous analyst to predict that “Junts” will lose the bet. If the presumably unitary movements of 2017 already lacked legitimacy, for the renewed unilateralism of “Junts” is much mor difficult, even on the assumption that the history of 2017 is repeated in the photo finish and Puigdemont advances Junqueras in the last gasp of the count.
Albert Branchadell is a professor at the Faculty of Translation and Interpretation of the UAB.