Monday, July 4

A bit of calm

From “pardon” to “insult” there is only the variation of a letter, but the distance of a whole world. Free opinion is not only expressible and respectable, but necessary, but in Spanish politics some bad ways have been established, when a high dose of calm would be necessary, since this country in these historical moments is at stake a lot. Coexistence, or coexistence, in your society. But also not the recovery from the pandemic but the transformation of our production model and of our society, thanks in large part to unique European funds that are unlikely to be repeated, and to some in-depth reforms. It will not be achieved with such a tense and divided politics. Spain, all of Spain, faces a future of economic, social and political reform, but this will be harsh and difficult to achieve. For the moment, more uneasiness.

The PP with Casado has the entire legislature in tension. They must suffer a lot. First, they thought that the pandemic would take the Government away (which has not happened yet, but Madrid has been a warning) and they never supported the state of alarm; then the budgets would not come out. And now that the partial and conditional pardons to the condemned will turn against Sánchez outside of Catalonia. However, outwardly, Spain is gaining in international image with these pardons. Read, however significant, the recent editorial of the Financial times, entitled “The Catalan pardons offer an opportunity for reconciliation. Pedro Sánchez is right to seek a way out of political paralysis and social division.” The future reform of an outdated definition of “sedition”, as proposed by the current majority and as requested by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, is another ingredient.

The pardons can deactivate part of the tension in Catalan society (but the same cannot be expected in the whole of Spain), although it will largely depend on the pardons and their parties. Of what they do, more than what they say. However, the measure of grace will not solve the Catalan question. In fact, I increasingly agree with the idea that it cannot be solved, nor entailed, but managed, which is already a lot, if it guarantees several more decades of progress. It is not an arrow directed in only one direction, as the case of Quebec in Canada shows. The independence movement can go to more or less. Depends. And above all they can change their methods to integrate into the constitutional modes. But you have to have a compass, a strategy and know where you want and can get there, or at least the way if not the inn, a well-planned plan, which already exists for recovery and transformation and is missing for politics. Concord must begin in Catalonia, but to be successful it must be extended to the whole of Spain. You can glimpse what may come –with very delicate balances– but that has not been made explicit. Sooner or later (the PP lost the opportunity when Rajoy had an absolute majority), it will require a reform of the State of Autonomies (in a more federalizing sense, which is what is lacking, but which Catalan nationalists like Jordi never wanted Pujol), and many other aspects of the 1978 Constitution that hold back the political, social and economic development of this country. Today it is impossible, while progress continues in institutional deterioration.

The PP is not only not sufficiently present in Catalonia and the Basque Country, but, for this very reason, it uses anti-Catalanism, not only anti-independence in other territories, and especially Madrid. He has shown that he can govern like this, not without consequences, as has been seen. We do not believe that only the PP is the reticent. Not because of Vox, even more so, but the PSOE itself – not just the “old PSOE” – is divided before these pardons, although the most critical voices within it are fading, especially after the letter from Junqueras. Society is expectant.

Polarization is not something strictly Spanish. It is present in many of the western democratic systems. But Spain is at stake more than others. Germany does not have to transform. We do. A consensus will not be reached, although it would be necessary in many areas. A little political calm is enough for now. A wish and a need. Far from reality.