Pro-independence parties are set to take power in Catalonia in elections Sunday that could pave the way to secession. Julian Maganto* makes a plea not to let emotions decide.
On Sunday the Catalans choose their representatives in the regional Parliament.
In a year that is so electorally significant in Spain as this one, in which there have been exciting changes in the political scene as a result of the recent municipal and regional elections and as we head into general elections in December, the result from the elections in Catalonia has a special interest for all inhabitants of the Spanish state, as they wait expectantly to see if the winds of change also enter the region’s palace of power, Sant Jaume.
But these elections are also different from all previous electoral contests since the end of dictatorship: the appearance on the ballot paper of Junts pal Sí (Together for Yes), comprising political parties as diverse as the Catalan nationalist CDC and Catalan left ERC, all aiming for a declaration of independence of Catalonia and with a roadmap to achieve it unilaterally if necessary.
For months and especially during the election campaign, the debate has focused ever more insistently on this demand, while the issues related to the loss of social rights, job insecurity and unemployment, corruption, depletion of public services, [state] repression and many others that affect the daily lives of people have been relegated to a far less important status. And as is natural, this debate has transcended the Catalonia dominating the headlines across the media in Spain.
I’m not voting on the 27th of September, but I’ll hazard the following observations :
Human decisions are essentially guided by two vectors, equally valid, which may overlap at certain times: rational analysis and emotion. The first is based on facts; the second in feelings. Convinced nationalists are largely guided by the latter.
If you believe in the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity that drove social change in the modern world, you first find it inescapable to accept that people have the inalienable right to decide on any matter. That is the basis of the current democracy and empowerment of the people. The second principle requires the extension of universal rights, since decisions by some can affect others and this is closely linked with the third principle, which involves solidarity, including of a universal reach.
Current nation states are artifices created to organize societies based on a certain historical moments and correlations of forces and power, which were and are often unfair. An example is the Kurds, Palestinians or cases in many African countries. It is therefore logical not to consider these structures, which preceded others, immovable.
Everything can be modified (borders, economic system, model of state) provided that it is democratically decided, and the above principles are respected. The problem arises when emotions trump rational analysis and the above principles. That was the sentiment that the ERC leader transmitted when he said that he was Catalan first, then a leftist.
It is undeniable and understandable that the disastrous attitude of Spain’s ruling Popular Party towards Catalonia (whether down to stupidity or intentional) has pushed an important section of the people towards the Catalan independence movement. That is yet another of the responsibilities that lovers of the patria, the national-españolistas, towards the the ordinary people, one more problem added to the many that need to be resolved.
But to solve problems that the inhabitants of Spain have in common, one must first throw out those who have imposed the most damaging policies on ordinary people, and this without a second thought, even as corruption swept their political parties: outgoing Catalonian President Artur Mas and Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy. September 27 is the first occasion, and the other is in December.
Immediately afterwards, we will talk, we will solve the problems with freedom, equality and fraternity. Everything is possible.
But meanwhile it is best to control the emotions that in many cases, like religious beliefs, do not allow contrasting opinions. Because they are matters of faith.
*Economist, member of Podemos, and the economists’ collective econoNuestra