THE OBSERVER

Summer notes

The tectonic plates are shifting ahead of the verdict

Amid calls to unity, supposed master strokes and an appearance of institutional control in the Catalan government, the underlying current hints at new alliances in the making and new leaderships for a new political cycle with the pro-independence forces recomposing themselves. The tectonic plates are shifting ahead of the verdict, and the political spaces are getting ready for new elections in Catalonia, snap or otherwise. With public calls to hold the ground, the strategies of the pro-independence parties are united in the government while they are in a crisis in parliament and the other institutions at the various levels of the Catalan administration. The diverse coalition agreements in cities, councils and provincial governments have exposed that the strategies aimed at consolidating the political position of some are viewed as treason by the others and vice versa. JxCat have come under fire over their agreement with the PSC to govern the provincial council of Barcelona, a power play that will yield an obvious advantage in the short term, but one that will weaken their mid term strategy of calling for unity against the unionist bloc.

PSC leader Miquel Iceta, the socialist leader who is implacable when it comes to defending his party’s political interests, was the go-between that thwarted Ernest Maragall’s bid to win the mayoral seat in Barcelona city. Iceta made a deal with the CUP in Sant Cugat to push out JxCat, but the PSC’s pact with JxCat in the Barcelona province means the PSC will lead the third most important institution in Catalonia and will put its generous budget to use for the sake of the local councils in the greater Barcelona region. The PDECat argue that this is David Bonvehí’s response to ERC’s “stab-in-the-back” moves in Figueres and Sant Cugat, but the agreement is only an example of the undertow and the new alliances beyond the pro-independence axis, and of the chronic, all-out competition between the two parties.

Mas and the resistance

Artur Mas’ discourse smacks of resistance. The former Catalan president calls it “active” resistance, “the kind that allows you not just to survive, but to make progress”. For some time now, part of the electorate within his political space has remained orphaned and the various strands that it is composed of have failed to properly bind together. In an interview with this newspaper, Mas claims that this space can be rebuilt under JxCat, the umbrella party led from Waterloo, plus new leaders in Catalonia. Reality is more complex than that. That same day, someone clever and in the know assured me that the reconstruction will only come after a political bloodbath because the diverging strategies are irreconcilable. Mas is monitoring the situation closely as he bides his time. While nobody is prepared to mention a split, some are preparing for it and are willing to go to the polls, “where politicians die, rather that get killed behind closed doors”. The agreement on a new strategy to respond to the verdict in the trial of the political prisoners —and whether a new referendum will be called or perhaps snap elections, as some are considering— will be key for the independence movement. Whichever the proposal, if a new date is set, someone will need to explain to the public how they will go about things the day after.

F***ing money, man

Rosalía sings in Catalan and some busy themselves with criticising her for saying “cumpleanys” rather than “aniversari” (1). Rosalía is proof that the Catalan language is alive and can be used for everything, that Catalonia is much more open, plural, bilingual and welcoming than the fundamentalists would have you believe. Rosalía is a powerful woman who is using her popularity to promote our language.

The growing man

This week we have had sordid news about sexual abuse and young women being raped by monsters. All men who are willing to renounce their toxic masculinity must urgently take a step forward, with no qualms, and be the first to dispose of the stereotypes. We need boys who have been brought up to be sensitive and show respect, men who reject abuse, and relationships that are not based on superiority or dependence, but respect. If possible, we need human relationships that are not based on power, domination or subservience. Disgusting wolf packs, battered women are watching us all.

A growing president

A certain masculinity relies on height and that is what Paris Match has given Nicolas Sarkozy. The former president of France has presented his memoirs and he is featured on the cover of the glossy magazine in a photo where he appears to be taller than his partner, Carla Bruni. First it was the flat shoes for her, to conceal the 9-centimetre gap, plus raised insoles for him. Now Paris Match has made him taller by having him stand on a higher step. Anecdotal? Perhaps, but it speaks volumes about power, masculinity, the role of women in the public sphere and mankind’s capacity for ridicule.


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Translator’s note:

(1) In standard Catalan “aniversari” is the correct word for “birthday”, even if some speakers —such as Rosalía in her new song— use the Spanish word “cumpleanys”

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