Having a legitimate government at the helm of Catalonia’s Generalitat was important. The mandate following the 21 December elections was unambiguous. As a result, most independence supporters such as myself were in favour of forming a government and avoiding a fresh election, in spite of the four occasions on which the Spanish legal system has prevented Parliament from voting in a president. And let us not forget the people’s right to good government and a government under parliamentary control, two circumstances that were made impossible thanks to Article 155 [whereby Madrid imposed direct rule].
The election of Quim Torra as President of the Catalan Government brings to a close one of the most bizarre and abnormal chapters in Catalan politics in recent years: the absence of a legitimate government. Nevertheless, no one should be fooled into thinking that with the formation of a new government and the end of 155, the political situation in Catalonia will cease to be rocky.
Events in both Catalan and Spanish politics have continued to be marked by decisions made by the courts of law. Those who some time ago delegated political action to the courts thinking they would solve “the Catalan problem” have now seen that the judicialization of the issue has become the main stumbling block to seeking a political solution through dialogue. Ironically, it has also become the main reason why the Catalan issue has taken on an international dimension.
We are only a few weeks away from the start of our court case, for which we stand accused of crimes which are punishable by decades in prison. Those of us who are in prison already know that we will be tried separately from those who are in exile. The reason is none other than to ensure that the legal decisions made in Belgium, Scotland, Germany and Switzerland –which have shown little or no sympathy for the Spanish Supreme Court’s case– do not cast doubt on our guilty verdict.
The machinery of the Supreme Court is engaged in designing criminal justice of variable dimensions. In other words, we are to be tried differently based on the same facts. An utter disgrace. But for now it seems that nobody wishes to stop it from going ahead. It is one of the consequences of what one could call a “judgeocracy”, a situation in which the judges not only do not reject their overblown political role, but instead brazenly accept and even actively seek it, by means of their decisions.
Faced with a situation in which Parliament’s political institutions are debased along with the government’s ability to mediate and moderate the conflict, ‘judgeocratic’ solutions might mean that the benefits of avoiding new elections become irrelevant or marginal to say the least. President Puigdemont is aware of the risks. Nevertheless, he was determined to form a government, a decision consistent with the conviction held by any democrat that institutions must engage in politics, and that the more demanding and participatory the public are, the higher the democratic quality will be.
We ought to thank President Torra and his government for taking on the leadership of a complex institutional manoeuvre, and a labyrinthine yet inevitable political agenda, if we are not to lose everything. Torra’s government won’t have it easy thanks to interference from certain quarters and the ongoing legal proceedings. However, he mustn’t stop governing in the search for solutions, thinking about the Catalan people as a whole and while committing himself to “repair the tears in the country’s social seams that have appeared in recent months, however minor they may appear.”
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