NEWS

Analysis: Catalonia And The Staggering Failure Of Politics

Friday was a dark day for Catalonia, Spain, and Europe.

28/10/2017 13:04 SAST | Updated 28/10/2017 13:34 SAST
Susana Vera / Reuters
Pro-unity demonstrators with banners calling for the imprisonment of sacked Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, gather in Madrid, Spain, October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Susana Vera

ANALYSIS

In recent weeks I have seen things that you would not believe.

- I have seen a legitimate Catalan government commit harakiri and strike a mortal blow to Catalonia, condemning it to a shameful journey into the wilderness.

- I have seen 70 out of 135 Parliament members decide on the course to be taken by a country, arrogating to themselves a right to which they are not entitled and distorting the law to silence the minority. Never before has such a meager majority taken a decision so significant without a qualified majority.

Yves Herman / Reuters
A man reads a newspaper at a bar the morning after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain, October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

- I have seen people in the streets enthusiastically celebrating a declaration of independence that puts them in political limbo and jeopardizes their future.

- I have seen one of Europe's most cultured, rich and diverse regions hijacked by the most radical of nationalism, dazzled by fantastical promises of a magical secession.

- I have seen educated and sensible people stubbornly deny the evidence: that unilateral independence for Catalonia will seriously damage its economy and shroud its future in uncertainty. In the absence of any international support, not even confirmation that they would lose control of their autonomy was enough to stifle their endeavors.

- I have seen educated citizens liken those claiming that legality is the only defense against arbitrariness to supporters of Franco. I have seen young politicians who situate themselves on the left mocking those who fought against Franco; those who put their lives on the line, not their Twitter followers.

Yves Herman / Reuters
Catalan regional police stand guard the morning after the Catalan regional parliament declared independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain, October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

- I have seen senators of the Central Government's party enthusiastically applaud a law that permits the suspension of Catalonia's autonomy. Perhaps it is the only way to restore legality, but even if it is only temporary, it is a backward step by any measure. It also sets a dangerous precedent for Spanish nationalists who wish to curtail the guarantees of a quasi-federal State such as the Spanish one. This applause is sickening.

- I have seen how a country that emerged from a dictatorship 40 years ago and that overcame a coup in 1981 is resurrecting the crimes of sedition and rebellion from the penal code, and is willing to apply them with full force.

- I have seen the way that the Catalan conflict has been growing in recent years due to the impassivity of a prime minister who made the greatest mistake a politician can make: to be unable to gauge reality. And when he did finally react, he generated one of the most damaging portrayals of our country in recent times: police officers bearing down on citizens who wanted to vote in an illegal referendum on October 1st.

Spain is currently in a state of shock. Tougher times still await us. The Central Government taking control of the government of Catalonia is full of risks and the greatest of these by far is social division. In the medium term, given the consequences of this staggering failure of politics, this October 27th will go down in history as a dark day for Catalonia, Spain, and Europe.

This story was first published by HuffPost Spain.