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Spain and Catalonia, is a Third way possible?

The pro-independence supporters have called on a boycott on the presentations and music of Catalan singer Joan Manuel Serrat, who fifty years ago declined from participating in the Eurovisión –the longest-running annual international TV song competition in Europa– as then dictator Francisco Franco demanded he sang in Spanish and Serrat wanted to sing in Catalan.  Serrat said he is against independence, unleashing the rage of radical autonomists.

There is a pact between the Izquierda Republicana de Cataluña - ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) and Juntos por Cataluña (Together for Catalonia) parties to elect the organs of Parliament and proclaim Carles Puigdemont president of Catalonia. The ERC claimed “realism” to Puigdemont in face of what they consider an unviable taking of office for having fled from justice. However, they hope the legal actions endorsed by the government are the way to get rid of Puigdemont and pave the way to nominate other names.

In face of the possibility of taking office, the new President of the regional legislature Roger Torrent, said, “I will not take part of the casuistic likelihoods. The Parliament should take the decision and I will not speak of hypothetical situations” (El País, January 18, 2018).

From the side of the Republican Left, they request Together for Catalonia an alternative proposal and its delegate Joan Tardà said, “The greater good of a pro-independent government goes beyond names.”

The lawyers of the regional Parliament have issued a very clear report against that possibility and Supreme Court magistrate Pablo Llerena, said that the “fleeing” delegates cannot vote during the taking of office and without these five votes Puigdemont cannot be elected, not even in a second round as he would be tied with 65 votes with the group formed by the Ciudadanos, Socialistas de Cataluña (PSC), Popularand Cataluña en Común parties.

In face of the request of Together for Catalonia for Torrent to travel to Brussels to speak with Puigdemont, he said, “I will not take that hypothesis.”

Meanwhile, the PSC and Cataluña en Común have agreed saying, “We do not believe we can appoint people that cannot take on their responsibilities”, according to socialist leader Miquel Iceta.  Then a Los Comunes party spokesperson added, “The Generalitat should be governed from Catalonia, not from Brussels”. And when the Republican Left asked the Together for Catalonia party an alternative proposal, its delegate Joan Tardà said, “The greater good of a pro-independent government goes beyond names.”

Torrent then said, “Catalonia is a society of ‘crossed identities’ and a ‘pluralists country’”, and recalled that as Mayor of Saria de Ter (Province of Girona) “I have always opened the door to the world and I pledge to continue doing so, now as president of the Chamber.”

During the inaugural session of the parliament the Mesa de Edad (one of its entities) allowed former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, former advisor Joaquim Forn and former president Jordi Sánchez to confer their vote after Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena, opened the door to this possibility, just for these three indicted.

At the national level

The Podemos party succeeded in making the administration of President Mariano Rajoy reply to the demand of complying with its obligation to summon a debate on the status of the nation which has not been celebrated since 2015. Its leader Pablo Iglesias, urged for this summon and succeeded in making the government accept this session before March 21st when the situation of Catalonia is to be defined.

This scenario is depleting the voters who hope to continue and abandon the pro-independent cause as this has led to a blockage: 61% of the voters of the Republican Left and 50% of Together for Catalonia propose looking for a negotiating strategy as that of the autonomous community of the País Vasco (Basque Country), which after a long armed conflict with ETA came to an agreement with the central government, which recognizes autonomy in certain fields.  

In Spain, total independence is backed by 26% of its citizens, while in the region it has a 52% support from Together for Catalonia and 50% of the ERC. A third way has the support of 76% of the socialists and Cataluña en Común. Meanwhile, the Constitutionalists that just want to turn the page are 8%, and this trend is growing, while 72% propose going with the Basque pathway. This trend is linked to the decreasing support of the pro-independence movement in favor of a “third way” to guarantee new competencies for Catalonia.

It looks like the central government will look to block Puigdemont’s taking office and will look to find a new name along with the pro-independence supporters, but they will not be allowed to seek total independence as the government will block these efforts once again.

Although the results of the unilateral votes of October of last year for the government of Puigdemont were not recognized by the government claiming the summons was illegal and did not meet the conditions to warrant its reliability, the new victory of the pro-independence movement and the collapse of the PP in Catalonia in the elections summoned by Rajoy on December past will compel them to look for a new agreement that:

  • Respects the integrity of Spain
  • Recognizes the autonomy of what is legitimate and legal
  • Make political activity viable in the region again and makes companies that fled the region come back

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the former general secretary of the Socialist Party (PSOE), has called, “Making a new political project for Spain attractive for the majority of Spaniards and for people of Catalonia, which may be achieved through reforming the Constitution” (El País, January 20, 2018).

Apparently, this has been a historic failure treating region autonomy in a differentiated manner, as it has only left the door open to claims of unequal treatment Madrid provides to its different regions.

They will end having a constitutional reform that will redesign the autonomies and save the unity of the state. This could be the unweaving of the current conflict, whose seriousness is impossible to disavow.


Consejo Editorial