Very serious prognosis

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The 2017 balance of the relationship between Catalonia and the rest of Spain is highly negative

This is the last article of 2017 and when trying to summarize what happened this year in the Catalan conflict (the relationship between Catalonia and the rest of Spain), the balance can only be very negative. I do not say catastrophic because of the optimism of the will, but …

We have now been five years since the first mass demonstration of 9/11 and the subsequent elections of 2012, in which Artur Mas requested an “exceptional majority” (and the Catalans refused it) to embark on the road to a somewhat shaded Ithaca but far from Spain.

And more than ten since the approval by the Catalan Parliament of a Statute of autonomy that raised great indignation in much of Spain. That Estatut was modified and trimmed (Alfonso Guerra, triumphant, said “brushed”) in the Spanish Parliament, then voted and approved in referendum in Catalonia with the opposition (for antagonistic reasons) of the PP and the ERC, later resorted massively by the PP and finally retouched – but not annulled – by the Constitutional Court. It was before that sentence when the ‘president’ José Montilla, socialist and not nationalist, expressed concern about the climate of growing “disaffection” of Catalonia with respect to Spain. Without the appropriate receptivity in the PSOE of Zapatero and total deafness and contempt in the leadership of the PP.

Let Montilla Street, with the error of the Estatut we are going to pre-jubilee Zapatero, who won us by Atocha, was the state of mind of the PP.

After 11 years of increasing disaffection without that -not in Madrid or Barcelona- enough voices have emerged to warn of danger, what happened in 2017 is not that it was not foreseeable but the nonsense has been superior to what is imaginable.

The tear in mutual relations and in the political climate has been of such a caliber that channeling the problem requires much more than relying on the passage of time or the optimism of the will. You need intelligence and risk analysis. And of both we have seen little in the year that now ends. Therefore, the diagnosis can only be pessimistic.

The Catalan leaders made the unforgivable mistake of skipping the Constitution and the own Statute of Autonomy
In Catalonia many mistakes have been made. The most serious is undoubtedly the vote by the tight independence majority of the Catalan parliament (72 seats over 135) of the two laws of rupture (the referendum and disconnection with Spain) that not only violated the Constitution voted in 1978 (with a support in Catalonia superior to that of the rest of Spain) but the own Estatut that forces for minor matters (like the simple reform of the Estatut or even the electoral law) to a qualified majority of two thirds (90 deputies).

And then, ignoring all the warnings of the Government of Madrid, of three Spanish parties that have a very large majority in the Congress of Deputies, and even of the European Union, they approved a declaration of independence on Friday, October 27, which did not have a breath of life and then have said that it was only symbolic.

The immediate response – could not be another very different unless Spain endorsed the independence – was the recourse to the 155, the suspension of the Catalan government and the call for elections 55 days later.

But also the disorder and the legal insecurity generated – basically due to the fear of leaving Catalonia outside the EU – caused great uncertainty, the change of the headquarters of the two Catalan banks that are among the first five Spanish, of many other companies , the notable fall of tourism and consumption, a great incomprehension in Europe and an indignation, the first layer of a deep distrust, in Madrid.

After the rebellion – which reminds one of Lluís Companys’ 1934 against the republican government of Alejandro Lerroux – the hostility of Spanish public opinion and of the political class has multiplied. I am afraid that for a long time the demand for more self-government on the part of Catalonia will be highly suspect, which will make any third-way pact almost impossible.

The worst thing is that this hostility will be justified, at least in part, by the stupidity and nonsense of October 27, which neither Puigdemont nor Junqueras wanted to end – there is Urkullu mediation – but it ended up being produced because both leaders were unable to face each other not to the popular masses but to their most deceived relatives.

Spain is now (rightly or wrongly) outraged and insensitive to the fundamental demands of the majority of Catalan society.

And the proof is the haste and speed with which both the National Court and the Supreme Court have reacted, which has led to political errors of bulk (its function is not to understand the psychology of Catalonia) and to behave, in the eyes of a lot of Catalan public opinion and not just independence, as an inquisitorial tribunal. And to screw up as with the European arrest warrant against Puigdemont that ultimately had to retire to greater honor and glory of his election campaign.

But the fundamental thing is that an insensitive Spain will not be a favorable ground for any negotiation (assuming that in Catalonia there is a government that wants and can negotiate).

And if the judicial, political and media world believes that a severe process against the “decapitated ringleaders” of “the insurrection” is the solution (or that it can channel the crisis) as much as possible they are digging towards the center from the earth. Because the ungovernability of Catalonia that we can see in the coming months will end up affecting also the politics and economy of Spain.

The first test will be the approval of the budgets of the year that is about to begin with the PNV.

Finally, an ‘ulsterization’ of Catalonia, which can not be totally ruled out, would be the worst scenario for Spanish democracy.

Minister Wert’s phrase about Spanishizing Catalan children reveals a general lack of understanding of the conflict

Spanish mistakes started long ago. The root of all – although it seems incredible – is the lack of understanding of the Catalan reality. When Minister Wert said, one week after the failure of the “exceptional majority” of Artur Mas and the secessionism was in a state of shock, that it was necessary to “Spanishize the Catalan children”, it was a diaphanous sample of the leaders of the PP they did not understand anything of Catalonia and that they were not conscious of that they fed the disaffection.

And that the President of the Government did not stop Wert, however much he might disturb his electorate, indicates that the priority was not to prevent the Catalan wound from becoming infected.

Then, when the formation of the last Rajoy government at the end of 2016 and with Catalonia already lit, it is incomprehensible that it did not name two ministers of Catalan civil society (of a business or conservative nature) that would have made it difficult for separatism to paint the Government of Spain as a anticatalán executive.

And I know that there were people willing. For legitimate ambition and responsibility. Then sending the vice president to dialogue seriously – for the first time – with different political and social sectors of Catalonia was fine.

But it was late and insufficient. It was no time to offer dialogue but to demonstrate that the PP could and knew how to weave alliances with the most pragmatic Catalan circles. Aznar himself did it – in less dramatic circumstances – when he incorporated Josep Piqué into his first government.

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