Independentism to Spain’s rescue
or Here Comes the Bogeyman
Pressure grows on Catalan pro-independence parties to support Pedro Sanchez’s budget to stem the rise of the far right in exchange for nothing
Translation of “L’independentisme ha de salvar Espanya” by Pere Martí, Vilaweb, 04/01/2019
The offensive. Independentism is being asked to put its claims on hold so as to save Spain from the onslaught of the far right, which now makes up 3.7% of the electorate, according to the CIS opinion poll published today. That is, the far right which is recognized as such, not that which is camouflaged under other party political abbreviations. Things are going quite well for them. This offensive has taken the form of statements, proclamations and budget blackmail. Saving Spain means voting in favour of Pedro Sánchez’s government budget, in exchange for nothing, under the pretext of preventing government by the right-wing triumvirate which has conquered Andalusia and is advancing towards the capital of the Kingdom on horseback, with the support of PSOE’s southern grandees. Independentism – hitherto spurned, insulted, repressed and humiliated – is now expected to act as the Spanish left’s lifebelt otherwise democracy will teeter. Independentism must approve a budget promising 2.2 billion euros more for Catalonia when their leaders face 200 years in prison. Independentism has to approve the budget of those who endorsed Article 155 and suspended the Catalan Government a year ago. Independentism has to forgive and forget those who demonstrated alongside Vox in the streets of Barcelona and who now demand support for the budget for free. And listen to the requests of Foment de Treball (Promotion of Employment, a Catalan business association) and the company directors who moved their headquarters out of Catalonia after 1 October following the orders of Mariano Rajoy’s Government.
Not only do those asking independentism for this gesture offer nothing in return, but they are also the same people who remained silent when the Spanish police stormed the polling stations, when the presidents of Òmnium Cultural and ANC (Assemblea Nacional Catalana – Catalan National Assembly) were jailed, to say nothing of when a whole government was forced into prison or exile. So far, they have remained exquisitely neutral on the “process”, if not contemptuous. Some are truly left-wing. The last political adventure of certain others was Citizens for Change (Ciutadans pel Canvi), but they changed nothing. Then there are those who are manifesto professionals, celebrity lefties against climate change and against war, especially if it is the United States’ fault. But on the self-determination of Catalonia, not one letter to the newspapers.
The question is why independentism has to save democracy in Spain when democracy in Catalonia is not respected, by which I mean the results of the 21 December election and the 1 October referendum. Why should independentism be sacrificed now if, when smothered by repression, none of those now asking for generosity have extended a hand? Catalanism is always asked to help save Spain, but then fails to receive any of the political power mandated at the ballot box. It has been so since the “Spanish transition to democracy”.
As things stand in Spain, independentist support for the budget does not suit Pedro Sánchez as he will be accused of doing unspeakable secret deals with the “supremacist” Torra, which will result in electoral defeat. In fact, it will suit him better if ERC and PDeCAT vote against it so he can extend the current budget and go to the polls in the autumn able to accuse independentism of having betrayed him, wrap himself in the Spanish flag and hope to have enough with Ciudadanos’ support to continue in government.
In the current scenario, Pedro Sánchez is in no position to make any political offer to independentism that does not mean political suicide. Neither will he agree to a referendum nor does he have the power to modify Supreme Court sentences. The only thing that he can give Catalonia is charity, like renaming Barcelona-el Prat Airport for us and verbally acknowledging that the Lluís Companys case was very nasty. At his next meeting with the Catalan Government, scheduled for January, he can give Josep Irla’s name to Girona Airport or go to Alfonso Guerra’s office shredder to retrieve the strips of paper that were once the 2006 Statute of Autonomy. But to keep the bird in the hand we had Miquel Roca, who did it beautifully. Now, in theory, ERC and PDeCAT want something else. The month of January will be very long.