José Antonio Zarzalejos Saturday, 27/06/2020
Puigdemont and Pascal, in a pro-independence act in July 2017. / FERRAN NADEU
The emergence of the PNC is a milestone in Catalan and Spanish politics. Because it represents the only new sovereignist and nationalist option that, rationally detached from the ‘procés’, although not revisionist, denies unilateralism to achieve independence, bets on dialogue to strengthen self-government and is located in a territory of ideological temperance.
The organization has had a long time to mature: it would have to go back to September 2019, to meet former leaders and those related to the extinct CDC and UDC and opponents of Carles Puigdemont in the Poblet monastery. There, “El País de Demà” platform was created, which has mutated into the Partit Nacionalista de Catalunya.
The PNC reacts to the space abandoned by Catalanism transformed into furious secessionism and does so by recognizing itself as a nationalist, a condition that many independentists do not assume. Moreover, the nationalist would be a drive that, especially on the left, is refused.
Independence would not be for republicans, for example, a mere national objective of identity, but, above all, a functional alternative to offer the country fairer solutions, seeking greater and better collective self-perception. The PNC breaks with the Catalan taboo of not calling its parties “nationalists”. Jordi Pujol fled from that label and used a convergent evocation (CDC) and the Christian Democrats did not either: they appealed to the union (UDC).
All the groups that have emerged after the ‘process’, located on the fringes of the political practices that were used between 2012 and 2017, have avoided the nationalist conceptualization: there is the Democratic League, Lliures, Convergents and Units per Avançar, which they try to reformulate a non-independence Catalanism.
But even initiatives by protagonists of the ‘procés’ have circumvented that nomination: the PDECat – now in internal turmoil – or La Crida. The term does not appear on the left either: neither in the historical ERC nor in the radical and recent CUP. There is, in this omission that the formation promoted by Marta Pascal now repairs, an apriorism: nationalism has emotional remissions to exclusion, historical anachronism and self-absorption.
The PNC leaders do not think so. Among other reasons because they assume two contemporary references of success. On the one hand, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) which, founded in 1895 by Sabino Arana, has been reformulated to this day. On the other, the Scottish National Party (SNP), established in 1934 and which, in addition to ruling Scotland with large majorities, managed to hold a failed self-determination referendum in 2014, agreed with London. Without forgetting the nationalist experience in Quebec.
Nationalism that long-term commitment to sovereignty, more as an aspiration than as an achievable objective, uses independence as a driving force to increase self-government, establish the conditions for sustained dialogue with the State and have social transversality with factors of inclusive identity.
It moves away from essentialism. What it does not do – and the PNC will not do – is to reiterate ‘processist’ behavior. In their ranks, in addition to experienced politicians such as Pascal herself, Carles Campuzano or Jordi Xuclà, the important figure of Antoni Bayona, former ex-elder of the Catalan Parliament, appears, who summarized in the title of his book on the ‘procés’ a forceful critical judgment : ‘Not everything is acceptable’.
In political science, modernizing nationalists, defenders of liberties and open societies, are generically called “young Turks” in evocation of those who in Turkey formed in 1908 and until 1918 the so-called Union and Progress Committee. Young Turks -laics and nationalists- were also some groups that emerged in Latin American countries in the last century -for example in Uruguay-, and with that name the Government of the United States referred to the PSOE of Felipe González that devastated the polls in 1982. The former president himself agreed with him in an interview in the newspaper ‘El País’: “Yes, we are reasonably nationalistic.”
The PNC, which should take the PNV and the SNP as references but without imitative temptations (organizing the party as the peneuvists moves away from the Catalan political culture and from the integral conformation of the country against the confederal of Euskadi, whose cultural elements such as the language does not admit comparison), it is the option that offers the most plausibility of some electoral success innovating in the current spectrum of Catalan parliamentary forces. Which would raise expectations here, but also in Madrid, which is facing the JxCat, ERC and CUP treble as if it were a wall. Extending politics to new actors in Catalonia is also doing it in Spanish politics.
The crucial decision of the PNC is to measure his electoral bet to the millimeter: if it goes alone to the next elections or is accompanied by all or some of the Catalan groups that like Units will not repeat luck on the PSC lists. There is the offer of Albert Batlle that, however, could blur, if accepted by the PNC, the profiles of the new party. A well-received training in wide Catalan sectors -business, for example-, which is also welcome in the capital of Spain, where some of its leaders and militants are known and appreciated in the world of politics, law, culture and university.
ERC and JxCat immobilization
Hence, this new agent in Catalan politics represents a milestone that could be fundamental, forcing the main independentist parties (ERC and JxCat) to uninstall themselves from their current immobility. A resistant attitude that leads to unreality when events suggest returning to it as the PNC’s ‘new’ Catalan nationalism does. As Seneca wrote, “Every new beginning comes from the end of some other beginning.”