THE OBSERVER

A knot

Once again, and filled with hope despite the disorientation caused by the political situation in recent weeks and impotence over the imprisonment of the principal pro-independence leaders, thousands of people have again taken to the streets, civically and en masse. This time it was to demand freedom for Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the presidents of the ANC and Òmnium, Oriol Junqueras, the Vice-president of the government, and Ministers Borràs, Bassa, Mundó, Forn, Turull, Romeva, and Rull.

Once again civically and peacefully, but this time with a knot in the stomach. With dignity, but also sadness, listening to the silence of the children of some of the honorable politicians who are imprisoned for their ideas and for a disconcerting political strategy, but driven by the lack of political reasoning by an impassive and blind Spain. The atmosphere on Saturday was not festive, it was a collective act of warmth towards the families and the attendees themselves, still disoriented from the repression, the annulment of home rule, the imprisonment of peaceful, democratically-elected people for reasons of conscience.

The demonstration was also a call to unity. But the logic of political parties differs from everyone else’s and it is unclear whether they will be able to overcome their partisan agenda and achieve a unitary list, or even that this would be the best formula for managing the difficulties from December 22nd. The citizens’ slate that President Puigdemont is asking for would erase party acronyms and would be a joint challenge to Madrid, but it would be an instrumental list that would be ineligible for any election funding and advertising spaces, which the parties value. It would be the most advantageous for a disoriented PDECat, which needs to rebuild itself, but with the elections called by Rajoy, Puigdemont lost the presidential ability to dissolve the parliament, and thus leverage over his partners. As a single ticket or several, those in favor of sovereignty will have to rebuild proposals, objectives, and itineraries. For the good of the country, they will have to generate a collective catharsis that explains to their voters where they have made mistakes and what the new timelines and realistic objectives are. But they probably won't do so before the elections, only afterwards, and it will be then, once they have measured their strength, that they can set objectives, strategies, and calendars.

Spain is still a country that is reactive to change, suspicious of difference, and some political and judicial players appear to seek out their opponent's recantation rather than compliance with the law or political debate

In the past month the constitutionalist bloc has gained strength and the application of Article 155 with the cooperation of the PSC has given wings to Miquel Iceta. His aim is to act as an intermediary with the theoretically harsh sector (PP and Cs) and seek out moderates even in turbulent waters, such as those from the now-defunct Unió Democràtica. The strategy is risky, but developed using his direct relationship with the Moncloa and in anticipation of the results of December 21st and the scenarios that voters could create.

The heretics

There are people who always have a bonfire at hand. A bonfire for witches, for heretics, for communists, masons, independence supporters, or even for supporters of Spanish unity. The bonfire can take on the form of a newspaper editorial that puts the world to rights, but also a holier-than-thou message on Twitter. The thing is that from the absolute truth provided by proximity to power, a comfortable sofa, a healthy bank balance, or a more-or-less distant university lecture hall, it is easy to dictate a doctrine of purity for others to obey. The release from prison of Carme Forcadell, the Speaker of the House, provided an opportunity to light the bonfires. Some Madrid newspapers talked of "renouncing support for independence", or "rectification", or "non-credible repentance". It is well known that recanting requires retraction and anathematization, in addition to professing the Catholic faith. In addition, establishing if the spirit is sincere and intentions correct is essential. The lovers of rectifications and recantations follow the star of the Holy Inquisition or of the great Beria, who was in charge of the huge Stalinist purge. A man who generated so much fear that in the 1990s Muscovites still avoided passing by what had once been his house. A few days ago, a balanced person made me think about the disgrace, the lost opportunity, of the Counter-Reformation. Spain is still a country that is reactive to change, suspicious of difference, and some political and judicial players appear to seek out their opponent's recantation rather than compliance with the law or political debate. Spanish Attorney General José Manuel Maza clearly suggested, referring to the imprisonment of the Vice-president and Ministers, that if they had complied with the Constitution and Article 155 "perhaps some things might have been different".

The Attorney General's words urging the recantation of ideas, and the enthusiastic reaction of those who see a betrayal by Forcadell in a simple defense strategy do nothing more than confirm the political nature of the crimes and the legal measures being applied. Prohibiting Carme Forcadell from attending yesterday's demonstration is a useless act from a political point of view because she and the other prisoners were very present to millions of people who were demanding their freedom as an urgent necessity, and who continue to hold true to their ideas, as they have shown en masse. After them, after all of us, others will come. What is needed is to do it better, with less herding instinct and more listening to what we don't want to hear.

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