On Monday Catalonia’s riot police indulged in some good old separatist bashing, as they tend to do (although, to be fair, you will also meet Catalan separatists who enjoy being at the receiving end of the beating) on occasion of the Spanish king’s visit to the monastery of Poblet, near Tarragona. In contrast, Vox supporters were politely encouraged to walk past the police cordon so they could cheer their king and his wife, Letizia, from up close. It’s worth pointing out how that lot —Spain’s far-right ultra-nationalists— are practically the only ones left who still look forward to a snapshot with a king —this can’t be emphasised enough— who is a complete failure.
All of us republican types pretty much already had confirmation —from a range of public, credible sources— that his father and predecessor, King Juan Carlos, was a crook. Those who are kicking up a fuss now and feigning outrage are the same ones who used to be on the old man’s payroll and now they are gnashing their teeth, like the hypocrites they are.
However, it is fair to say that the King Emeritus always displayed a certain flair or survival instinct, if you like, in the political and institutional arena which prevented him from becoming the caricature that his son Felipe has turned into: a puppet in the hands of the far right and the extreme right since 3 October 2017 (1).
Speaking of 2017 and Vox —the political party that made the single, most decisive contribution to the spread of the coronavirus in Madrid on March 8 and 9 (2)—, the Spanish far right is, once again, the plaintiff in a court case. This time in Catalonia’s Higher Court of Justice, where the former members of the Catalan Parliament’s Board are being tried [for allowing a parliamentary debate on self-determination in 2017] together with then-CUP MP Mireia Boya.
Incidentally, Vox have asked that the organised crime charges be dropped from the case (they carried a prison sentence of up to 12 years) and they appear to be satisfied with the penalties that the public prosecutor is pushing for: a fine and a ban from holding public office. We must be careful not to take certain things for granted: in a court of law far-right parties should be sitting in the dock, the place reserved for them, instead of leading the prosecution. In contrast, the Speaker and the Board of a parliament should never face prosecution for having done their job in a democracy, not to mention be convicted and sentenced to jail, like Carme Forcadell was.
The outrage (logical, even necessary) at such state of affairs is currently the single driving force behind Catalonia’s independence movement. Oriol Junqueras’ cockiness still rings in our ears after Sunday’s tv interview, as the first volume of Carles Puigdemont’s memoir is coming out —penned by the outstanding Xevi Xirgo— a book where the exiled president will say whatever suits him. Both leaders have announced some sort of detente, a move whose aim should be deciphered by specialists in the Catalan independence process. Seen from the outside, though, it appears to be an attempt to rally their own voters. It makes sense, too: considering the actions of the political parties they lead over the last two and a half years, the one incentive for independence supporters to go to the polls is to prevent the other side from getting in. And that, in itself, is a very poor incentive.
(1) On 3 October 2017, two days after Catalonia’s independence referendum when one thousand peaceful Catalan voters were injured by Spanish riot police, King Felipe made a formal address on Spanish TV sanctioning the crackdown.
(2) Vox, Spain’s far-right party, held a widely attended political conference in Madrid city on March 8 and 9.