Among all the fractures that today divide Spanish politics, there is one that draws attention; the one that separates those who bet on dialogue and those who believe that talking to the other is a waste of time, in the best of cases. At worst, a betrayal. “It is a national disloyalty, a humiliation for all good Spaniards,” says Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who in her frontal rejection of dialogue aligns herself with her greatest antagonists: with that part of the Catalan independence movement that dismisses this dialogue as sterile and bets on the ‘the worse the better’.
“The dialogue table is going to be a failure, we will make a strategy focused on confrontation”, Miriam Nogueras openly admits, spokesperson in the Congress of Junts, who from diametrically opposed positions, values and ideas, shares analysis and strategy with the PP and Vox. Each of them, in their own way, bets on the same thing: because the dialogue will not work. And they believe that not moving from their position of maximum and fomenting the confrontation will have their electoral prize.
Perhaps those who do not sit at that table are correct in their prognosis. Perhaps the negotiation will fail. But the key question is what alternative do they offer. And if that alternative is better.
It is known how the proposal that the Junts and the CUP still defend today ends, that of the unilateral declaration of independence. The result is in sight. It was already tested in 2017 and it is obvious that it would be repeated. Once again the prisoners, the international neglect, the rejection of one half of the Catalans themselves and the frustration, in the face of a new failure, of the other half.
It is also known how the alternative offered by the Spanish right, that of the heavy hand, the authoritarian response and recentralization ends. It must be remembered that it was precisely that – embodied in the PP’s campaign against the Statute – which largely explains how we got here.
The dialogue table has it very difficult. And so it is admitted by all those who sit there, from the Government and the Generalitat. One party considers a self-determination referendum to be inalienable. The other refuses to give it to her, and it is doubtful that she could, even if she had that will.
The starting positions are so far apart that the first big agreement – that there are no deadlines, that the meetings be “periodic and discreet” – is a good start. Only then will it be possible to move forward.
The photo between Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès was more than necessary. The institutional coexistence had been broken so much since 2017 that something very basic, the explicit recognition of the other as an interlocutor, represents a spectacular step. But after the photo, that announced discretion will be essential.
It is also a great step for what this table implies by itself, where both parties have already given in by sitting down. The recognition, by the Government, that what happened in Catalonia is a political problem, and not a matter of public order that depends on the judges or the security forces. And the recognition, by ERC, that the independence that they legitimately claim does not depend only on the Catalan people, nor can it be imposed unilaterally.
The freedom of movement of both parties is reduced, due to the pressure that both bear from those who bet that this attempt will fail. Will the Government of the Generalitat survive this legislature when ERC and Junts maintain such different positions on such a fundamental issue? What decision-making capacity does the Government really have in the face of the power of that deep state that the right has never stopped controlling?