Antón Costas – Friday 27/12/2019
Images: Leonard Beard
Without recognizing the damage that has been done to the coexistence between Catalans, there will be no possibility of advancing
The change of the decade seems to illuminate signals that announce that we are entering a new stage in what we have called the Catalan political conflict. From what we know through this newspaper, the negotiation between the PSOE and ERC to obtain the latter’s support for a PSOE-UP Government is focused on the recognition by the PSOE of the existence of a political conflict between Catalonia and Spain and the creation of a negotiating table between governments. They seek to get out of the judicial process to place themselves in that of political negotiation. Waiting to see how that recognition translates, those conversations are hopeful.
Every cloud has a silver lining, as the popular wisdom of the proverb says optimistically, the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union, establishing that Oriol Junqueras had immunity from the moment when the results of officially recognized the elections, is a European innovation that can help channel the conflict in Spain. The Orteguian axiom of “Spain as a problem, Europe as a solution” is fulfilled.
Independence supporters have to be aware that the unilateral decisions of 2017 broke the consent of non-independentist Catalans
However, we know very little or nothing about how the other leg of that conflict is being addressed in that negotiation: the bankruptcy of the internal coexistence between Catalans caused by the ‘procés’. In particular, the laws of disconnection and unilateral referendum approved with the votes of the sovereign bloc of the Parliament on September 6 and 7, 2017. These laws violated not only the provisions of the Constitution, but also the Statute, which is the internal constitution of the Catalans, and that establishes that two thirds of the Parliament are needed to make decisions of that draft.
These two decisions caused enormous damage in the coexistence between Catalans, not only in the political, economic and social spheres, but also in the family. The ravages in the latter area are less known because we all try to minimize them, taking the political issue out of the family conversation. But not by trying to soften them, their effects are less real. In some cases they even go to family divorce because of political divergence.
Without recognizing the ravages caused by the ‘procés’ in the coexistence between Catalans, there will be no possibility to advance in the exit to the political conflict. That the PSOE recognizes the existence of a political conflict must go in parallel with the recognition by ERC of the existence of an internal conflict. Otherwise, it would be like rowing with a single paddle, it would not move forward, we would just end up dizzy.
Repair the break
Independence supporters have to be aware that the unilateral decisions of September 2017 broke the consent of non-independent Catalans with the Government of the Generalitat and with the Parliament. From that moment, these two political institutions only represent half of the Catalans politically, with forgetfulness, when not contempt, of the other half. Without addressing this division there is no lasting solution to the conflict.
The long governments of Jordi Pujol were made possible not only by the nationalist vote but also by the consent that the non-nationalists gave to those governments. A consent based on the confidence that nationalists would always respect the Constitution and the Statute and govern for the benefit of all Catalans. That confidence was broken first with the shift from nationalism to independence that Artur Mas gave after the electoral defeat of December 2012. And, definitively, with the unilateralism that Carles Puigdemont introduced from 2016, under the impulse and the pressure of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC).
I hope that ERC, insofar as it has renounced unilateralism, has the moral and political courage to recognize the ravages of ‘procés’. And also to be able to formulate a new liberal nationalism, respectful of the rights and freedoms of non-nationalists, without thereby giving up their goal of independence.
ERC has to overcome the vertigo caused by political decisions alone. Until now he has been held hostage to the unitarian strategy defended by Carles Puigdemont in order to maintain political power in his hands. Without daring to fly alone, we will remain bogged down.
In any case, the negotiations between PSOE and ERC have to recognize the ravages caused by the ‘procés’ in the peaceful and collaborative coexistence between Catalans. And include in the agreement initiatives to reduce these ravages. Otherwise, that agreement would be lame and ineffective.