The opinion piece published a few days ago by the Cercle d’Economia has been well received in business circles and in most of the Catalan and national media.
I am convinced that, in various aspects, the criticism will be shared by the governments in question, although it is not easy to interpret in the same text considerations about the actions of the Generalitat and the City Council.
Knowing the Cercle well, I thought that the generalisation of the criticism was due to its traditional ideological neutrality, given that it is directed at the two governments that make up the four largest political groups in Catalonia. But the thesis of generalisation falters when I note that no responsibility for Catalonia’s situation is attributed to the institutions of the State. They probably thought that, before attributing blame to others, it would be good to start by pointing out the responsibilities in our own house, which is basically an exercise in healthy self-criticism, but I am concerned that a biased reading of the opinion of the prestigious Catalan think tank could lead to the conclusion that in the current context of powers and resources it is possible to carry out, from Catalonia, a solid and far-sighted government action such as that proposed by the Cercle, without first having agreed with the State on the appropriate measures to resolve the political-institutional problem in which we have been immersed for more than fifteen years.
In my opinion, the lack of these agreements makes it very difficult for Catalonia and, by extension, Spain, to govern well, especially when some of the political actors who are essential to reach this great pact show no interest in it, either because of their electoral calculations or because they harbour the erroneous perception that, without making an effort to achieve it, the situation is already getting back on track on its own.
It is a serious mistake to underestimate the capacity of the conflict to persist, believing that the effect of all that has happened in Catalonia will be overcome with a few budgetary details and the revision of certain competencies, without the need to alter the pre-existing relational status.
Personally, I wish that Spanish and Catalan societies would soon find a way to overcome the mutual disaffection that has built up over the years, in order to move together along the path of harmony, but I am convinced that tactical skills can only temporarily attenuate the conflict but achieving the necessary political and social stability will require more sophisticated structural solutions.
These solutions must arise from the willingness of the parties to overcome the judicial consequences of the conflict and negotiate a new model of self-government for Catalonia, along the constitutional lines already recognised by other foral communities in Spain. A model based on mutual respect, with criteria of equity, solidarity and without false attribution of privilege, which should be approved in a referendum by the Catalan people, with the certainty that it will subsequently be respected.
Given the current lack of understanding within Catalan and Spanish politics, I understand that this type of approach is described as Utopia, the expression coined in the 16th century by Thomas More to define an ideal organisation of society, but whose realisation is improbable. But I continue to insist on this, because I see no other possible alternative and I believe that, properly explained, the majority of Catalan society is prepared to move in this direction and that the agreement would also be soothing and acceptable to Spanish society as a whole.
What seems utopian to me is to trust that the good politics that we need and that the Cercle proposes can become effective without a broad prior agreement on the roadmap to follow to overcome the institutional conflict between the State and Catalonia that continues to hinder our development and collective wellbeing.
It is a serious mistake to underestimate the capacity of the conflict to persist.
If we are to dream of utopias, I prefer to dream of one that bets on a great positive effort of joint reconstruction rather than one that trusts that, with the control of time and at no cost, the conflict will disappear due to the exhaustion of the opponent.