Madrid counted on the referendum push not surviving beyond August
DAVID MIRÓ Deputy editor
The deplorable spectacle given at the Catalan Parliament on Wednesday, gloated upon by many, will not hide the core issue: the Catalan Independence process is for real. It may fail or succeed, but it is for real. This, its survival after five years of surprises and tension, is in itself the movement’s first victory. Many see this clearly. But not for Madrid, nor for many of the members of the Catalan Parliament, in the house yesterday and who have, for some months, been preparing elections they believed to be unavoidable. The idea that this multicolour alliance, spanning from the anti-capitalist left to the most orthodox of liberalisms should stay united with the aim of carrying out the referendum against the machinery of the State seemed to them implausible. They kept seeing evidence that they were right.
In all the cafes, dinners and telephone calls, the message was the same: “This cannot go on, the internal tensions are running too high”. “PDECat [Catalan liberals] will split”, “Junqueras [Vice-president] is biding his time to become President”, etc. Well, no. the independence process has survived into September, a law has been passed and a referendum called. The State can, of course, still stop it. It has the capability of quashing it and of making the promoters pay a steep price. Of course it can. But this is no longer the question, because the process has ruined the image of the happy and united Spain sold by the PP party. if Spain stays united from now on, it will be on the basis of prosecuting politicians and civil servants, of resisting massive demonstrations in the streets, of maintaining a sort of state of emergency in Catalonia, of living in fear of the response of Catalans in the elections when the time comes to vote… it would be a union maintained by force, so brittle and weak, with feet of clay.
A conflicto zone
As of Wednesday, Spain has officially become a zone of upheaval on the international stage, a place with a deep seated conflict, a metropolis with a rebel province, a territory with an insurrect part of the population, determined to enforce its rights. The next few days and weeks will unfold, but the Catalan independence movement has already achieved its first goal: burst the bubble of the Spanish 1978 Constitution regime; which, by the way, neither Podemos nor Pablo Iglesias have achieved.
From now on, Spain’s leaders, and some Catalans too, must face up to reality and realize that this is a new scenario they had not foreseen. Having considered independence absolutely inconceivable led them to consider, also, that the pro- independence politicians, especially the successors of the Convergència party, with its “bird in hand” tactics, would never be prepared to put themselves at personal risk. They are beginning to realize they have been mistaken in their perspective. While the sovereignty movement inaugurated a new vision of reality (the will of the Catalan people before that of the political parties and the limits imposed by the Constitution), others kept their “regional” glasses on, maintaining the old way of doing politics.
Spain has not been able to, or has not wanted to see what was going on. Now, all the options on the table are bad: either repression, or a sell-out negotiation. Unless they are prepared to face a definite defeat on 1st October.