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In the end, the rupture and division of the Government in Catalonia has become evident. Junts and ERC have shown in the Parliament their differences regarding the pragmatism, or not, of accepting the decision of a Supreme Court. In the end, the Parliament has decided to give the reason to the Electoral Board to withdraw the seat of Catalan deputy to Quim Torra. This compliance by ERC, one of the partners of the Government, against the decision De Junts per Catalunya, has triggered the end of a legislature, already sentenced for inoperative. There will therefore be early elections to the Catalan Parliament in May or June.

All this demonstrates how complicated governing is in Catalonia (and Spain). But the crux of the matter is the excessive role played by the judges. Specifically, Franco’s public prosecutors and judges, heirs to the values (and surnames) of an imperial, colonial and chauvinistic past, which is revealed with every decision. Without a doubt there are democratic judges and prosecutors. But those who today are at the top and determine all the political life of the territory of the Spanish state are Franco’s judges. It is similar to the period when Italy was shaken by the prominence of the Manos Limpias judges, only the other way around. There, it was an upheaval against corruption. In Spain it is a convulsion against democracy. More specifically: against what the people vote.

Prosecutors and judges are above the people and they remove and put in place governments, deputies and presidents if necessary. It is they who rule, who rule, for in Spain today there is nothing but the “rule of law”. A law interpreted by a Francoist leadership. A law that is encouraged and encouraged by the media that know that these decisions (today against Catalan independence fighters, rappers, women or trade unionists) are the ones that maintain political, social and economic “order”. A law supported by the Spanish, Catalan and Basque banks and big bourgeoisie.

Thus, although the Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Galician peoples have voted for a government in Spain to initiate a dialogue, to start a path to reverse the disastrous austerity policies of the PP governments of recent times (and also of the PSOE), the judges are willing to prevent legislation in that sense. Their interference is constant, permanent. The latest has been this decision and the forced end of the Catalan legislature, once again opening up instability to Catalonia and Spain.

Despite attempts to “de-judge” Spanish political life, repression is conditioning everything. It is difficult to establish a dialogue between Catalonia and Spain with a Spanish executive that is constantly being overtaken by judges’ decisions on Catalonia. The PSOE needs to be constantly under pressure from ERC to prevent the negotiation table from breaking down when… it has not even begun! The PSOE’s intentions to control this dragon with the appointment of a progressive (and ex-minister) Public Prosecutor seem very good, but… will she succeed in this task? We have already seen the public reticence of the judiciary to her appointment, with more than a third of the votes against it.

The European Courts and other international bodies, such as the UN or the European Parliament, leave the decisions of the Spanish courts to the level of bitumen, time after time. However, the Spanish courts are ignoring them. The most recent defeat has just happened today. Clara Ponsatí, from Junts per Catalunya and exiled in Scotland, has just been appointed MEP with the opposition of the Central Electoral Board. The latter ordered her to go previously to Madrid to swear in the Spanish Constitution… and there she would be arrested by the police for “sedition”, for being part of the Government that organized the referendum of October 1, 2017. A perfectly concatenated strategy between the Electoral Board, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Supreme Court and the Spanish police, organized to prevent what the people of Catalonia voted in the last European elections. The State against the people. And, incidentally, against the ruling of the European Court…

The Rajoy government first introduced Article 155 into the Spanish state in 2017, suspending Catalonia’s autonomy, arresting half the government and forcing the other half and several pro-independence political leaders into exile. Something similar was done by Serbia when it suspended Kosovo’s autonomy: from there it broke the balance of the extinct Yougoslav Federation, opening the way to the Balkan wars. Fortunately, or rather, because of the awareness and collective experience of the Catalans of what the civil war and ETA have meant, the armed route has not been followed, nor has terrorism. However, there is no shortage of provocations by the Spanish state to fall into this trap.

Since the application of 155, Catalonia has been under “surveillance”. There is not a day when any of the three parties of the “trifachito” -PP-Ciudadanos-Vox- does not ask for and threaten to apply that article again. Not even the PSOE has definitively abandoned this repressive path. In fact, the implementation of the 155th has already marked the end of a stage, not only for Catalonia, but for the entire State: it is the end of the regime of the autonomies.

Since the Catalan “process” we are living the death throes of the semi-francoist monarchy. What was intended to be avoided during the “democratic transition” and was achieved for more than forty years – a democratic break with the past and a return to republicanism – is now gradually making its way, in the midst of battles that must combine the struggle for survival in the face of the neoliberal offensive, with the struggle for democratic freedoms.

We are therefore in a situation in which the two essential aspects of democracy are combined: the right to exist, to live in dignity; and freedom. Without freedom there is no citizen empowerment, no transparency, no truthful information and, therefore, no self-determination, either personal or as peoples. And in order to exercise this freedom, the residual State (or not so much) under Franco must be dismantled. To “de-judicialize” the Spanish political life means to start a democratic break with the 78’s regime. The same to begin to reverse the endemic backwardness in social policies.

The rupture of the unity of independence in the immediate is a blow. It has suddenly shown the falsity of a strategic unity that never existed between ERC and Junts per Catalunya. ERC always submitted to the neoliberal social policies of its partners, while Puigdemont, Torra and the more ideologically pro-independence sector of Junts per Catalunya made filigree statements about disobedience and independence “for now”, without leaving one iota of autonomy. Neither of them has made an assessment, nor clearly explained what happened after 1 October and why the Catalan Republic was not proclaimed then. Drawing up this balance sheet is absolutely necessary in order to understand and decide where society wants to go. An informed people is a free people.

But crises also serve to effect change. It can be an occasion to restore unity under this other prism, led by an agreement of the pro-independence and pro-sovereignty lefts. National rights, citizen sovereignty and social rights go together. If this agreement is reached, the Catalan pro-independence right may continue to act reluctantly and more divided, yes. This would perhaps cause an important sector of society to lose strength, it is true. But without a doubt the most important thing today is to broaden the working social majority, so that the poorer strata of Catalonia will embrace the idea and the republican struggle for freedom, equality and fraternity. Another regime. A Catalan Republic that is advanced in social, feminist and ecological terms.

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  • Pedro Fuentes
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