On 7 November, back in 2007, almost a decade ago, the Catalan president at the time, José Montilla, was at the Madrid Ritz Hotel when he warned that Catalan society was breeding a feeling of “estrangement” with regard to Spain and its institutions. At the time, Catalonia was suffering the commuter train service crisis because of the sink holes caused by the works to mae the high speed train line between Madrid and Barcelona, which came to a head with the demonstration on 1 December 2007 under the slogan “We have the right to decide on our infrastructures”. Unfortunately, Montilla’s call went completely unheeded in Madrid. They thought he was exaggerating or, worse still, that it was a manoeuvre top ut pressure on the negotiations for devolved funding.
ARA now compares the socio-economic reality then and now. The crisis hadn’t yet reared its head and the independence movement had only just started to become visible. Society still seemed quite confident in its economic future and satisfied with its institutions. But all of that was beginning to change. The exhausting process to renovate the Catalan Statute and the refusal by Spanish President Zapatero to devolve competence over Prat Airport (the consequences of that now very apparent), as requested by Catalan society at large and social players, was laying the ground for a far reaching social shift which went faster than expected.
Initially, the reaction took on a negative attitude (the concept of “disgruntled Catalan” was popular), but after the resolution by the Spanish Constitutional Court against the Catalane Statute of Autonomy, that estrangement predicted by Montilla became a positive project for a new State for Catalonia. We could say that in those ten years, Catalans have gone from “disgruntled” to “activated”.
What is crucial in placing the Catalan “Process” into a timeline perspective is that it allows us to understand that it is the product of a number of circumstances and decisions (gathering of signatures by the PP party against the Catalan Statute, the resistance by the PSOE to improve funding, etc) rather than a delusion by the political elite and their specious interests. Whatever happens, on 1 October, Catalan society has change greatly since 2007 and nothing will ever be the same. That is as true as the fact that it all began in 2007.