Tània Verge

For some time now, Spain sustains its power over Catalonia through domination. Domination is imposing a Statute of Autonomy through the Constitutional Court against the will of the Catalan Parliament and citizens. Domination is rejecting any proposal to further self-government, exercising unjustified financial control, invading Catalonia’s powers through framework laws or other recentralization mechanisms. It’s systematically submitting the laws of the Catalan Parliament to the Constitutional Court (and suspending them). Domination is inviting citizens to submit a referendum bill in a Spanish legislative assembly that, prior to the debate, has already determined the result. Domination is responding to the call for a referendum with a serious violation of fundamental rights and rampant political repression (article 155, coercion of companies), police (use of force against people, identifications, searches and arbitrary arrests) and judicial repression (‘general cause’ against independence supporters). The so-called ‘rule of law’ has been stretched so much that it cannot even cross the Spanish border without crumbling, as evidenced by the withdrawal of the European arrest warrant for the extradition of the president and the ministers of the Catalan Government exiled in Brussels. In this scenario, there is no comfort zone. The equidistance of ‘neither UDI nor 155′(*) implies accommodation to the politics of domination.
With the predominant organic conception of the Spanish nation and the inability to respect minorities, Spain has always been a failed national community project. With the use of coercion and the immobility of the legal framework as the only answers, today Spain is also a failed political community project that cannot be resolved with a more ‘friendly’ statewide government. The Spanish state is perceived by a very significant part of the Catalan population –perhaps the majority, if it were possible to measure it with an agreed referendum– as an unfair power with no legitimacy. The lack of legitimacy affects the executive, legislative and judicial branches, the king, and the main statewide media and political parties. Everywhere in the world, this entails a point of no return. When people consider that their rights and freedoms, both individual and collective, are not adequately protected, they are entitled, as a last resort, to rebel against oppression, as safeguarded by the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As posited by Emma Goldman, ‘people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take’.

(*) UDI: Unilateral Declaration of Independence; 155: Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution that entails the suspension of self-government.

Tània Verge
Tània Verge, associate professor of Political Science, Pompeu Fabra University