Turning arbitrariness into the norm is what sets a run-of-the-mill political system apart from a mature democracy. Some political leaders in Catalonia and Spain are trying to normalise a wholly extraordinary situation, namely when an election campaign kicks off with two political contenders out for the count because of the ideas they espouse and defend peacefully. One is on remand pending trial, the other faces a Belgian court of law.
The start of this election campaign has found Catalonia’s public opinion exhausted, but also outraged and eager to evaluate serious policies that can break the current deadlock.
Judge Llarena has released six of the Catalan ministers that have been held in custody for weeks, but is keeping Junqueras, Sànchez, Forn and Cuixart on remand. To quote Catalan PP leader García Albiol, the Inquisitor that specialises in the secessionist heresy, prison is justified in their case because they “have expressed no genuine regret”. It is all par for the course. Abjuring one’s democratic beliefs is considered a necessary condition for one’s release, which proves to the world that theirs is a political indictment, indeed.
The latest data from Spain’s government pollster (CIS) shows that Catalonia’s public opinion is almost evenly split across the middle into two similar-sized blocks. Now we know that there is no silent majority, but a Spanish nationalist bloc that will stop at nothing, empowered as it feels by the State’s force and its opponent’s mistakes, and a pro-independence bloc which, with every day that it wallows in its consternation, sees a Ciudadanos win as an increasingly likely outcome on December 21.