Antoni Puigverd, 15 September 2021
The hour of courage
Better not get your hopes up about the dialogue table. The event itself (the meeting, with the presence of the two presidents) is already a victory for our democratic system. When it comes to such harsh confrontations, the mere practice of civilized forms (meeting, recognizing, talking) is already a relevant advance. On maximums, everyone knows that nothing can be agreed, since, strategically, the positions are antagonistic: the Government maintains that the solution is a referendum on independence, while the central Government cannot accept such a demand, since the referendum would mean, in itself, a transfer of sovereignty, which the Constitution specifically prevents. The political force that the independence movement has accumulated around this demand is insufficient. Whatever the thousands of protesters say, this movement does not have the power it claims to have. The State has imposed itself and it does not seem that the civil independence movement has overflowed in the streets the timid attempts of Junqueras and Aragonès to inaugurate a new time based on the efficient management and strategy of the Scottish National Party (add supporters to independence by way of of social policies).
Now, as Carles Casajuana explained masterfully last Monday, Pedro Sánchez may be tempted to repeat Rajoy’s strategy: assuming that the independence movement is (to a certain extent) impotent, he could deduce that it is not necessary to contribute anything politically relevant to the table: just some economic concessions, coated, as is traditional, with appeals to the “equality of all Spaniards.” It would be a serious mistake. The Spanish executive must present a solution to the open conflict in Catalonia from the statutory reform. He must propose it to the table, but not only to negotiate with the independentists, but so that all Catalans know if there is political life outside the diabolical dilemma (independence, neo-centralism) that has presided over the crisis between Catalonia and Spain.
Is there life away from the diabolical dilemma: independence versus neo-centralism?
A cowardly Sánchez will have no fortune in Catalonia, but neither in Madrid, where the toughest positions get the best prize. A brave Sánchez, who puts on the table of Catalonia, with concrete proposals, a third way out of the conflict, can win two things: his personal future; and a new stage of inter-Spanish collaboration. More fireworks would be of no use. Now only courage is worth it. Sánchez and Aragonès must be clear that excessive prudence now is a very serious betrayal of the future. Condemning Catalonia to impotence is satisfactory for a certain Spain, but it is suicide, since the whole cannot live with a part dominated by necrosis. Condemning Catalonia to resentment and kicking, as a part of the independence movement sighs, is as much as affirming that one’s own death is worth it because it also hurts the adversary.