In politics, one cannot do as one pleases, since adopting such a strategy often carries dire consequences. However, the Spanish right, divided into three factions but united in its obsession to eject Pedro Sánchez from the Moncloa, has decided to forgo any trace of common sense and hold a joint march this Sunday in Madrid against the Spanish Prime Minister. It is not the first time the right has resorted to such tactics: between 2004 and 2010 the PP, acting alone at the time, tried to stir up unrest on the streets to defeat then PM Zapatero. Now, however, the level of tension is far higher, since Sánchez is being directly accused of having committed "high treason". Why exactly? For having agreed to the presence of what is being referred to as a “rapporteur” during talks on the future of Catalonia.
It must be said that both the PP and Ciudadanos are lying, since it is not true that the Moncloa has given in to President Torra’s request for an international mediator, but merely a rapporteur; that is, someone who will act as a witness during talks and who can confirm any developments. On Wednesday, Spain’s deputy Prime Minister, Carmen Calvo, speaking on behalf of the government, announced that the rapporteur would not participate in bilateral state-Catalan government talks but would only join the table of Catalan parties. There is to be no mediator, therefore. However, what some –those who favour independence– see as an inadequate gesture, others –the Spanish right– see as humiliation and surrender.
Agitation on the streets, however, is a boomerang that may end up coming back to hit Casado and Rivera. Shortly after the announcement, Vox, the third party in disharmony, rushed to sign up to the march. One doesn’t have to be a clairvoyant to predict that the extreme right will try to monopolize Sunday’s demonstration and turn the leaders of the PP and Cs into mere bit players. Following the pact reached for the Andalusian government, the alliance may well be sealed this Sunday with the image of Casado, Rivera and Abascal together, a picture that will only benefit the far right, since they will be seen as the ultimate defenders of Spanish unity.
The right may well end up benefitting from their strategy of creating tension and stirring up trouble. But at what cost? At the cost of seeing every Spanish citizen who fails to share their ideals as guilty of treason and responsible for all Spain’s ills? The rift which is opening, reminiscent of Machado’s two Spains [from to a phrase by the poet Antonio Machado, referring to the left-right political divisions that later led to the Spanish Civil War], will prove very difficult to repair. There is much talk of the social breakdown in Catalonia due to the independence process. But what about the rift created by the right within Spain itself?
Meanwhile, in Catalonia there is a growing feeling of distance and a lack of understanding with regard to what is happening in Madrid. The tone employed by Casado and Rivera when referring to Catalonia is so over the top, so phoney, that it may lead one to think that none of it is of any importance, that it’s all just theatrics. Unfortunately, though, it is clearly not the case. The PP-Cs-Vox triad is generating a reactionary front that aims to erase the Catalan difference. And independence supporters ought to be well aware of the danger they are facing.