Editorial, La Vanguardia, 30 October 2022
Puigdemont in Parliament, October 2017 / Albert Gea/Reuters
Five years on from the events of October 2017, which culminated in the proclamation of Catalan independence and its immediate suspension, there has been a proliferation of assessments of that political process and an abundance of opinion that, as such, it can now be considered exhausted. This does not mean, of course, that the desire for independence of certain sectors of the Catalan population has disappeared. But it does mean that the inflammation of those days has subsided. The social perception of that phenomenon is now different, both in qualitative and quantitative terms. This is demonstrated by the following fact, which seems conclusive to us: of the two main parties that promoted the procès-presidency, one, ERC, which currently holds the presidency of the Generalitat, has opted to redefine its strategy and choose a pragmatic path, characterised by negotiation with the State; and the other, Junts, which has recently left the Catalan Executive, to which it had been promoted by its voters, seems to have opted for an anti-political path characterised by permanent confrontation and, partly as a result of all this, is in the throes of a serious internal crisis.
At the time we knew, because it was demonstrated in massive street demonstrations, that the pro-independence project enjoyed considerable popular support. We now know, moreover, that this support was not matched by the materialisation of the so-called structures of State, repeatedly announced, which were to give body and support to a Catalonia now detached from Spain. And yet, when the moment of truth arrived, they did not find the promised materialisation. Simply because they had not been sufficiently developed, to the discredit of their promoters and the disappointment of those who trusted them.
It is a priority for Catalan society to stitch up the wounds inflicted by the ‘procés’.
Unfortunately, other chapters of the legacy of the procès have reached a higher degree of definition, which at the time perhaps could not be assessed in accounting terms, but which recent studies present in their full dimension. We refer, in particular, to the damage caused by the political polarisation associated with the procèsès to Catalan society as a whole. Among these studies is that of the Institut de Ciències Polítiques i Socials, directed by Professor Lucía Medina of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. It records regrettable data on, for example, the extent to which negative emotions and aversion to politics soared among Catalans, due to the tensions experienced at that time. Or how mistrust, irritation, negative feelings, polarisation, and disagreement among Catalans grew, the latter being a devastating factor for the country’s collective aspirations.
The sum of all the statistics gathered in this academic study can be summarised in a general conclusion (which countless Catalans had the opportunity to experience personally in their family, friendly or work relationships): the procés, which failed in its attempt to achieve political objectives, managed, on the other hand, to palpably damage coexistence in our society.
Living together means living in the company of another or others. Other people who will probably have different ideologies and life projects, but who coincide with others in a spatio-temporal framework. It is in the interest of all of them, both for their own and collective interests, to get along as well as possible. The reconstruction and improvement of this coexistence that has been seriously affected in the course of the pro-independence process is, therefore, a priority objective for Catalan society today. It is not shared by all parties. But most of them do. And it is essential for Catalonia to gain muscle and future, to strengthen and recover the positions she has lost in the turbulent period she has experienced in recent years.