THE OBSERVER

Between the call and the shouting

The party system is beginning to restructure itself, and this will allow new leaders to emerge and, perhaps, a clearer strategy for a response to Spain following 27-Oct.

"My risk would be to resort to rhetoric and symbolism," said President Quim Torra in an interview we published on June 10, 2018. A week earlier, his government had taken office shrouded in a dense atmosphere in which the reality of the prisoners, the exiles, and the restitution of the institution of government conditioned every gesture, every word, and some tears. Torra was eventually sworn in after months of direct rule and after having failed —due to legal hurdles and disagreements within the pro-independence majority— to bring about the inaugurations of Carles Puigdemont, Jordi Turull, and Jordi Sànchez.

President Quim Torra was aware of the magnitude of the challenge of the moment and presented himself as a link in the history of the presidency so as to guarantee continuity. The objective was to "restore" the "legitimate" president, and he wanted to continue the resistance leading up to a fresh clash the State, while maintaining an almost impossible balance between inflamed rhetoric, the day-to-day business of the administration with a coalition government that did not have a majority support in parliament, and the show of force by the State via a trial against the civil and political leaders of the sovereignty movement on charges of rebellion. Today, the same Quim Torra who urged the CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Republic) to "keep the pressure on", who said that he would not accept the court's ruling, and who sought a new "opportunity", has been called pro-autonomy by the Catalan National Assembly and the reaction is that of insult, as if it were not an imposed reality, as certain as the law of gravity, that Catalonia is today a Spanish autonomous region. One in internal eruption, frustrated and treated as an autonomous region.

President Torra is under growing pressure. Some pro-sovereignty sectors are questioning him because his rhetoric points to one direction but his actions do not, and the most pragmatic ones bemoan the lack of exemplary management of the government. The National Assembly accuses him of "breaking the promises" that were made ahead of the December 21st elections; among these, installing Carles Puigdemont in office, restoring the "legitimate government", and creating an assembly of elected officials. After denouncing that the Quim Torra administration has not completed any of these initiatives, the ANC is asking if they will let Pedro Sánchez's government fall, if the Spanish PM does not allow the exercise of the right to self-determination, and if he will accept the rulings of the Supreme Court. On Friday, the volley unleashed by the ANC forced exiled president Carles Puigdemont to publicly ask for "understanding and loyalty" and remind that Torra “is facing a State that has not abandoned the route of conflict with Catalonia." Puigdemont was thus responding to the criticisms meted out against Torra, which are also very harsh within their own camp. In private, of course.

Between the daily running of affairs and independence

Public opinion has read the situation and shares in the moment of political disarray, which is compatible with outrage over the trial. Rhetoric is not enough. According to the CEO [a government opinion poll], at present the three main problems in Catalonia are unemployment and precarious jobs (31.3%), dissatisfaction with politics and politicians (30%), and the relationship between Catalonia and Spain (29.4%). 53.1% of respondents believe that the government "does not know how to solve Catalonia’s problems”, whereas 38.4% of them state that "it does know, but it needs time".

This down-to-earth view of Catalan public opinion demands a new and courageous political narrative to prevent disappointment and coincide with the political restructuring of the fragmented post-Convergència Democràtica world, which has lately seen much rhetoric, but no proposals.

What is Crida [Call]? Who does it call on? One of its greatest proponents defined it a year ago as "the political arm of the Catalan National Assembly" and another source referred to it as "Puigdemont's own space". For the moment, it is moving forward as an "organized political instrument", a euphemism that foresees its conversion into a political party to compete in the municipal elections or even in the European polls. Puigdemont will be the leader, Jordi Sànchez the center-left strategist, Antoni Morral the general secretary. Rull, Turull and Forn, the Convergència guarantors. And Artur Mas? "He will navigate," says a source who sees how the former president is trying to make sure that bridges between sectors are not burned, and defends a sort of "coalition."

Once the political instrument is launched, PDECat knows that it will have a serious competitor that will threaten its continuity. "When do you break away? —a critic asks—. If you do not break away, you know they will run you over. " The leadership of Crida know that "a sector [of the PDECat] wants a battle." "Let them measure the risks, because it would be suicidal before the elections," they add.

The party system that imploded with the independence process is beginning to restructure itself and this will allow new leaders to emerge and, perhaps, a clearer strategy for a response to the State following 27-Oct and its consequences. A message that is able to illuminate the day after the trial of the independence movement.

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