What happens now? This time, there are no applicable sayings. The storm has passed, but there is no calm on the horizon. There is no leadership capable of solving the biggest state crisis of however many Spain has lived through in the past 40 years. Puigdemont isn’t willing and Rajoy isn’t able. No matter what, 10/1 will be a cursed date in our history, not only because of the disobedience and the blatant illegalities committed by the independence movement, but also because of the clumsy response from Rajoy’s government to the secessionist challenge: first hiding behind the judges, and later, behind the riot police. And all of that only to continue not being a politician. The result? A tear, a rupture and a Spain that has become the laughing stock of Europe and a deep concern for all its allies.
What Mas, Puigdemont, Junqueras and Romeva hadn’t achieved for years, the government did in just 24 hours. The conflict is now an international matter. And now the European Parliament will discuss the Catalan crisis before our own Congress. That’s what the Spanish right has achieved with its peculiar defense of the rule of law, in addition to constantly stating the obvious: that what happened on 10/1 wasn’t a referendum, and that the prime minister is now ready to talk to everyone.
It’s about time! If he’d been ready five years ago, we wouldn’t be in this position now, with a state crisis that will have untold consequences and that Spain faces with the most mediocre politicians that our democracy has ever had, and a government weaker than any before it. Now it turns out that the most sensible person is the PSOE’s (The Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party’s) Pedro Sánchez. Without his support, Rajoy, on the edge of the abyss, is doomed to call a snap election. And even though the Catalan crisis has resurrected the rancid Spanish nationalism that the PP (The People’s Party) hosts within its ranks, elections in this country are a risky business. At the end of the day, the independence movement is responsible for the damage caused, but the government actively helped to increase it.
The independence referendum was nothing more than an excuse for the Unilateral Declaration of Independence. This was known to everyone. Only the PP refused to see it, as they refused to accept that the seams that form territorial Spain burst open long ago. You reap what you sow.
And now they want talks, agreements, and the very same pact that they never wanted before. What they haven’t made clear, since they’re afraid of the demonized Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, is how they’re going to reestablish legality in an autonomous community that has decided to not only not respect the laws of the country, but also their own, before sitting down at the table -that is, if the independentists accept. Catalonia is now a lawless land, where the authority of the state has been seriously damaged after the images of 10/1, where no Criminal Code can fix the existing wreck.
Like it or not, there is a part of Catalonia that is already emotionally disconnected from Spain, even without a declaration of independence, and it will stay that way for decades. What we have before us isn’t just a problem, but the continuation of a very serious conflict. However many people want to talk, this won’t be solved tomorrow, or the day after, or in a parliamentary commission through which every kind of expert will be paraded.
If the Catalan Parliament were to declare independence unilaterally, we would get into an institutional mess, and the tension between the governments would become permanent. And however divided the independence movement is, because of the social implications of 10/1, it has no choice but to move forward, avoiding the call for a snap regional election that the constitutionalist block is demanding.
The situation is so critical that it wouldn’t be strange to soon be hearing calls to form a coalition government, a scenario which the PSOE wants to avoid at all costs. It is one thing to ensure institutional stability, despite not agreeing with the government’s police response in Catalonia, and another one entirely to allow themselves to be fooled by the Spanish right, which is as used to making successes their own as it is to socializing the failures.
The PSOE is now stuck between two sides: the defense of the state against illegality and the rejection of the police charges that ended with hundreds of injured in Catalonia. In order to not become a government parasite, they have demanded that Rajoy immediately open up talks without excluding anyone, that he meets with Puigdemont to try and reach an agreement. According to Sánchez, we already can and must talk to the independentists, whether there is a unilateral declaration of independence or not. If Rajoy decides to reestablish legality and apply Article 155, he won’t have any choice but to support it. That is, as long as the reason and the duration are well-known.
However, this would doubtlessly dilute the Pedro Sánchez who won the primaries. His support for the government takes him further away from Podemos, with which he promised to try and re-establish a cooperation and which he will doubtlessly need in the future if he wants to get to the Moncloa (hence his commitment to include Pablo Iglesias in the talks that he wants Rajoy to hold immediately to solve the Catalan crisis). Podemos’ secretary general is himself working with the independentists on an alternative to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence. The talks, whether solemn or not, will have many sides. And every person involved is aware. The next few days are critical, but also crucial to the future of Spain.