Member of the board of directors of the Societat Civil Catalana*
Historically, Catalonia has been one of the pillars of Spanish modernisation. The Iberian Peninsula entry point to the rest of the continent, it has always known how to take advantage of its strategic location in the Mediterranean to develop a competitive economy and convert itself into a model of its kind on a global scale in tourism or in the new technologies. A goodly part of this success is a result of the close relationship with the rest of the State, which is far from being the leading customer of Catalan services and goods.
Spain makes no sense without Catalonia nor Catalonia without its integration in Spain. There have never been differentiated or conflicted realities, and since Roman Hispania up to the decentralised State of today, passing through the integration of the peninsular kingdoms in the Spanish Crown at the end of the XV century, Catalonia has assisted in shaping a diverse Spain, a country proud of its cultural wealth and conscious of the undeniable links of union that underline such heterogeneity.
After the ill-omened Franco stage, Spain made a model transition towards a decentralised state in which nationalities and regions could find an adequate space for the aspirations of their inhabitants. Today, Catalonia and other regions with their own language, in addition to the official Spanish, have almost absolute competency in education, which has promoted their cultural singularity. But the capacity for self-government does not stop there and, in the case of Catalonia, it has its own police force and almost exclusive competencies in such important fields as health, which grants these regions a share in power almost without equal.
Catalan nationalist forces used victimisation in order to obtain bigger shares of power
In a state of these characteristics, the loyalty between the different territories is a nuclear element, and it is here where the Catalan political class has spent too many years working in the opposite direction. From the happy advent of democracy, the nationalist political forces that have governed in Catalonia have used victimisation to emphasise the differences from the rest of the country in order to obtain bigger shares of power with which to weave a network of patronage that is now showing itself to be the root cause of a generalised and heinous corruption.
This system, a toxic one for any coexistence project revealed itself in its worst terms on the eruption of the economic crisis after 2008. The suffering and desperation in which a goodly part of the Spanish citizenship found itself and, in particular, the Catalans, is used by the nationalist politicians to develop their programme to the absolute maximum for secession. A programme that in a disloyal fashion took decades to build through a strategy shaped by the man who was president of Catalonia for 23 years, one Jordí Pujol, at the present time under investigation for tax evasion.
In the headlong rush by his successor and the current Catalonian President, Artur Mas, to cover up the generalised corruption and his inefficient management of the economic crisis, the ontology of nationalism has entered the fray, in all its crudity, seeking an external enemy (Spain), constructing a tendentious foundational historical tale, and one far from the reality of a historical-cultural heritage in common with the rest of Spain, and adopting supremacist attitudes that we have come to know so well in Europe, sadly.
And so we reach the present time, with regional elections on 27 September that the nationalists are endeavouring to turn into a plebiscite on secession, shaped with a lack of democratic quality that is unacceptable. With an electoral law that grants greater value to the votes of the interior regions, more prone to the nationalist thesis; with the choice of a date that favours the absence of the sector advocating unity: with public media too often at the service of the independent candidature. In short a situation absolutely unequal between partisans and detractors of the secessionist issue.
But the most worrying is the announcement by the secessionist forces of utilising the electoral result to step outside legality and to take the road towards a unilateral declaration of independence that would distance Catalonia from Europe, that would accentuate the economic problems of its citizens and which would strain the cords of coexistence to very dangerous extremes.
*Societat Civil Catalana is an independent association whose objective is to promote cohesion and coexistence between the citizens of Catalonia and of these with the rest of Spain.