President of Portes Obertes del Catalanisme (Open Ports of Catalanism)
Barcelona, 2 October 2022
In complex times like those we are living through in Catalonia and Spain, throughout Europe and in many other parts of the world, there are hardly any simple or immediate answers. There is no formula for dealing with the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the economic, food and social crises that humanity is experiencing, the impact of climate change or the fact that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of 2015 are today almost a utopia.
It is obvious that the same can be concluded when we refer to Catalonia’s political problems, and not only in terms of the Generalitat government’s relations with the Spanish government, what we generically agree to call Catalonia’s place in Spain. It is true that we can speak of the Catalan problem or the Spanish problem, depending on how one looks at it. But it is certain that there is also a problem among Catalans.
The Catalan institutions must be given back the dignity and prestige they have lost in these years of sterile combat.
After the time of the pro-independence rush and of violating the logic of the Statute of Autonomy and the Constitution, what remains is a profound political, social and economic crisis, which has also left a significant trace of division and confrontation at the heart of Catalan society. The current situation of the ERC government in a minority, with the objective need to approve budgets, illustrates the reality.
I sincerely believe that it is necessary to make up for this lost time, moving forward collectively, with a sense of responsibility and perspective, to achieve necessary goals that have to do with Catalonia’s own sphere but also with Spain as a whole. The Catalan institutions must be restored to the dignity and prestige they have lost in these years of sterile struggle in which the struggle to maintain power has often been disguised as a national aspiration for independence. It is equally necessary to build a new climate of trust inside and outside Catalonia.
This will be possible if the majority political parties, the economic and social forces and civil society organisations are capable of sharing a minimum diagnosis of the country’s reality and needs, if there is a willingness to dialogue and build consensus such as those advocated by Catalan nationalism, a position that has historically been a clear point of reference for broad sectors of our society. Transversal and inclusive Catalan nationalism can be a meeting point for diverse positions that represent opposing interests, but which coincide in the importance of cohesion and the economic and social progress of a national community that recognises itself in its plurality.
I think it makes sense to reread what we wrote in the founding manifesto of Portes Obertes del Catalanisme in autumn 2016, already observing on the horizon serious threats to our coexistence and political stability: “We understand Catalanism not as an end in itself but as a shared social space that allows us to raise and articulate the set and diversity of aspirations of Catalan society, with a desire for civic coexistence with the rest of the peoples of Spain and for presence and active participation in the governability of the State”.
Dialogue is necessary. Within Catalan society and within Spain, which must make an effort to come to terms with its own territorial, cultural and economic complexity. In this sense, the words of the President of the Valencian Generalitat, Ximo Puig, when he called for a “territorial reset”, a better financing and claimed the value of self-government, on the occasion of the Valencian Country’s 9th October festival, seem to me to be very appropriate.
As we at Portes Obertes del Catalanisme said, Catalonia cannot stop and must overcome the logic of division.
Catalonia’s self-government is a tool that must not be spoiled and must be given prestige. The history of the 20th century offers us examples of what can be done by Catalan nationalism with will and a sense of country, with patriotism. Enric Prat de la Riba, president of the Mancomunitat de Diputacions, built, with very few tools in his hands, an enormous work of government with an innovative will that has survived to the present day, and which, in many respects, has not been surpassed. Josep Tarradellas was able to reconcile the republican tradition with the new Spanish constitutional reality and to find complicities inside and outside Catalonia. Two cases of pragmatism, fidelity, sense of reality, commitment.
Today, Catalan nationalism must allow us to pave the essential path of dialogue and consensus within and outside Catalan society, with the will to respond to the great challenges that lie ahead. As we recalled in the Portes Obertes del Catalanisme note made public in early October at the beginning of the government crisis, Catalonia is a country with great potential that cannot be stopped and that must overcome the logic of division. It must put all its capacities to work, it must recover its leading role in Spain, fully committed to the governance of the State, to Europe and with the will to build a cohesive, advanced and equitable society.