Meritxell Batet, 29/12/2020
Meritxell Batet Lamaña (born 19 March 1973) is a Spanish jurist and politician member of the Socialists’ Party of Catalonia, currently serving as President of the Congress of Deputies. Prior to this, she served as Minister for Territorial Policy and Civil Service of the Government of Spain between June 2018 and May 2019.
In 2020, forty years have passed since the first elections to the Parliament of Catalonia; Forty years of autonomy that express the magnitude of political change when compared in duration and intensity with the nine of the Mancomunitat or the seven of republican autonomy, the two longest experiences of autonomy to date, strangely longed for from a reality that surpasses them in each and every one of its manifestations.
The balance requires, at the very least, to recognize reality. The reestablishment of the Generalitat, its development and consolidation, have transformed Catalonia. Since 1980, Catalan citizens have at our service some authentic and not at all clandestine “State structures”: the Parliament, the Government and the Administration of the Generalitat. They have developed their own political system with no other reference than that of Catalan voters and with governmental, administrative and financial capacities to deploy the policies they consider appropriate. Today, options and public educational, health or social services, business support policies, the degree and forms of environmental protection, some of our most relevant infrastructures, the promotion of scientific research or access to culture and the possibilities of cultural creation are, for the most part, the result of the decisions of the autonomous powers. It also depends on them, at least to the same degree as on state institutions, to face the challenges and opportunities for the future, also those that have remained pending since 1980.
The autonomy of Catalonia has also transformed Spain. By itself, by assuming a leading role in the management and provision of public services and in the daily relationship with citizens. And also promoting the autonomous development of Spain and the consequent emergence of an authentic territorial division of power, which is configured today as one of the most effective limits of the state parliamentary majorities.
The superiority of the current reality is seen when comparing it with the years of republican autonomy or those of the Mancomunitat
On many occasions, the similarities between autonomous Catalonia and any federated state have been mentioned. It is a reality in the institutional functioning or the exercise of competences; but also in dissatisfaction and demands: claims for financial resources or reforms in their distribution systems, discussions about the specific scope and content of the state regulations that are imposed on everyone, the demands for uniformity and openness derived from being part of a broader political unit, in our case Spain but also the European Union … In every federal country these demands and discussions are permanent and their realization is the result of multiple decisions and balances that modify the effective scope of the territorial powers and the central power.
This period has also given birth to a generation, mine, in which some of us at least believed and continue to believe in values and principles that were preached from the autonomous powers themselves: the richness of shared identity, the importance of the will to being part of a common project, personal and social fertility and the advantages that diversity brings to society.
Because when I look at the reality of Catalan society, I do not see in its pluralism an evil to correct but rather an opportunity for growth and encounter; because I believe that their needs and their challenges are not in the construction of their own State but in the progress as a community, overcoming their many social, economic and cultural limitations. And of course because in this progress I can see enormous similarities, links and shared hopes with the rest of the Spanish; and I verify every day that belonging to Spain and the action of its citizens and institutions result in greater capabilities and benefits than the action of each one.
The needs and challenges of Catalonia do not reside in the achievement of its own State but in its progress as a community
The autonomy of Catalonia has gone through different phases and vicissitudes, but it continues to be, although some seem to forget it, our fundamental tool for guaranteeing and promoting the rights and projects of Catalans and Catalans. We have been discussing institutions and tools for more than ten years. And each of them has been a lost year to take advantage of development opportunities, bet on strategic investments, identify sectors with potential for economic growth and job creation, or generate inclusion and wealth by reinforcing social policies, as other communities have been able to do. Hopefully the next few years, or at least the next few months, and the next electoral campaign will serve to discuss more about a common and real project for the country.