MARÍA JESÚS CAÑIZARES @MJesúsCanizares
In favour of a change that opens the door to stability, to policies in favour of the common good and that leaves behind “magical independence”. Twelve representatives of civil society responded to a Crónica Global survey on their expectations for the Catalan elections on 14 February. Jurists, businessmen, trade unionists, heads of NGOs and social organisations, and sociologists take the floor.
Xavier Arbós (Professor of Constitutional Law)
Xavier Arbós, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Barcelona (UB), hopes for “a change” in which “a new government is a necessary condition, but not sufficient. I hope for a change that curbs the tendency towards populism and re-establishes respect for the institutions”. He says that if “this change takes place, I am confident that it will be somewhat less complicated to seek solutions to Catalonia’s enormous problems. And it will be a sign that its decline is slowing down”.
Josep Sánchez Llibre (Foment)
“We businessmen hope that these elections will allow for a solid and stable government with political and economic leadership that will make it easier to tackle the health, economic and social reconstruction of Catalonia with legal certainty”, says the president of Foment del Treball, Josep Sánchez Llibre, “We need a government that also listens to businessmen and attends to their needs to overcome the crisis that has generated the pandemic of the coronavirus. It is also especially important that the next government of the Generalitat has enough strength to approve the budgets that guarantee not only the reconstruction, but also the transformation of the Catalan economy”.
Sánchez Llibre stresses that “the current situation also requires a great national pact between all the public administrations – government, regional governments and town councils – and the social agents in order to make effective use of European funds and to relaunch our country with the help of public-private partnerships”.
Joan Coscubiela (CCOO)
The former member of Parliament and current director of the CCOO Labour School, Joan Coscubiela, trusts that “the citizens, with their vote, will allow us to get out of the bogging down and self-absorption in which we have been mired for years”.
Coscubiela hopes that the result of 14F “will prevent us from sliding down the slope of institutional degradation and economic and democratic decadence”.
Xavier Martínez-Celorrio (Sociologist)
“Catalonia needs to focus on economic and social reconstruction and close the serious scars left by the pandemic and a whole lost decade of magical independence that has camouflaged the loss in welfare, education, salaries and social mobility”, says Xavier Martínez-Celorrio, sociologist and advisor to the Minister of Education, Isabel Celáa.
In his opinion, “it is time for the social agenda, public investment, digital change and the ecological transition before anything else. The identity debate has run out of steam, it has been too corrosive and divisive, and the harsh reality has collapsed it. It is time to move on.
Diosdado Toledano (Guaranteed Income Commission)
“This election campaign is an exceptional moment for the rights and interests of citizens, especially vulnerable individuals and families, to be at the centre of the electoral debate, where a critical assessment can be made of the disastrous management of the implementation of the Guaranteed Income of Citizenship (Renta Garantizada de Ciudadanía, RGC), Diosdado Toledano González, representative of the RGC’s Promotion Committee, states that “it is time for the RGC’s implementation to be discussed, and also about the humanitarian disaster in the residences and the notable insufficiencies in health as a consequence of the cuts in this area in recent years, and consequently, to demand accountability from the ministries and the government that have demonstrated their incapacity”.
He considers that “now is the time to present to public opinion the alternatives and commitments to make people’s rights effective. Not only in the field of social rights, but also on measures to create decent jobs and guarantee labour rights, as well as proposals to change the production model, which has shown its shortcomings in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, reinforcing investment in public health and education, public renewable energies and advancing in ecologically sustainable development”.
For Toledano, “given the social insensitivity of the government of the Generalitat in recent years, the lack of self-criticism and willingness to rectify, I distrust that the parties and candidates who formed that government are capable of facing the great social and economic challenges that lie ahead, and even less, guarantee the rights of the social majority, particularly the nearly two million people who are at risk of poverty or the 500,000 people in severe material poverty at the end of 2020″.
“In my opinion, it is time for change for the good of all,” he concludes.
Rosa Cullell (Journalist and businesswoman)
“I hope that the social division will end, that the two languages of Catalonia will be respected and that no one will be discriminated against because of their origin or ideology,” explains Rosa Cullell, journalist, and business leader.
She also hopes that “the Catalan institutions will govern and act within the legal framework”.
Josep Maria Castellà (Professor-Club Tocqueville)
“What would be desirable is for the elections to serve for the new Parliament to give prominence to the politics of the common good instead of engaging in divisive identity and partisan battles. And for the new MPs to be aware of the risk we run as a civilised society”, says Josep Maria Castellà Andreu, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Barcelona (UB) and President of the Tocqueville Club.
If citizens continue to perceive that the current system does not resolve or deal with everyday problems,” he warns, “the preservation of institutions and the rules of constitutional democracy and the rule of law will be increasingly called into question.
He believes that these elections “will reflect a higher abstention rate because of irresponsible elections during the third wave of the pandemic. But abstention may also be the effect of a disillusionment of parts of the public with the expectations generated in the previous elections that have been frustrated. As well as a certain weariness with the repeated calls to the polls (twice as many times as in 2012: 2012, 2015, 2017 and now)”.
In his opinion, such frequency in the holding of elections “more than an expression of democratic exercise, shows a political anomaly: the inability of the parties to reach stable government pacts and to seriously address the effects of an increasingly visible social and economic decline”. Castellà believes that the “proliferation of candidacies is a sign that the parties are no longer capable of aggregating the will of broad sectors of the population, but that personalism prevails in them. In any case, this will allow us to have an up-to-date picture of the specific political preferences of Catalan society, which is more pluralistic than what is usually presented”.
Guiomar Todó (Educo)
“The new government that is formed after the Catalan elections must have children among its priorities,” says Guiomar Todó, Educo’s Deputy Director General. The arrival of Covid-19 “has worsened the lives of everyone, but especially those of children and adolescents who, before the pandemic, were already living in poverty, one in three of them. In this sense, more investment is needed, and concrete measures must be taken to reverse child poverty and prevent it from increasing.