[Spain] “Podemos” says the Catalans cannot!


Written by Felipe Alegría y Nuria Campanera
Thursday, 18 December 2014 17:10

Podemos, the political group that was born only 10 months ago, is already polling as the first electoral force in Spain and third in Catalonia.
It has an important responsibility in face of the complicated Catalan politics, marked by the struggle of the Catalan people, determined to decide their future, against the Spanish government that denies their right by appealing to the legality and “democracy.”
The PSOE also denies our right to decide and close ranks with Rajoy, opposing to any kind of referendum. Unlike the PP [Rajoy’s party, currently in office], however, it defends a constitutional reform. The PSC, in turn aligns with the PSOE, but adds that it would be in favor of a consultation, provided that it is “legal and agreed upon”, that is, since the government and the Spanish courts agree.
What do Podemos say about that? Pablo Iglesias’ statements have been always aimed at protecting the right to decide of the Spanish State peoples although he made it very clear that he was opposed to independence. On January 19, he said: “Podemos defends the right to decide of the Basque, Catalan and Spanish peoples and therefore I advocate the referendum.”
As it is well known, no doubt, the new party (although it has been converted into the first force in the polls) does not have a defined program and therefore it is difficult to know accurately what the Podemos final proposal to the Catalans is. Nevertheless, Pablo Iglesias latest statements offer glimpses of an important transformation of thinking of the new party leadership. Five days after his appointment as General Secretary, Iglesias told the SER network that “the local government has no authority to carry out a unilateral declaration of independence” and “the processes must respond to the legality and democracy.”
The problem with these statements is that they contrast brutally with reality, in which the intransigence of the regime shuts all possibility of a “legal and democratic” process. Thus, one choice should be made: either the side of legality against democracy or the side of democracy against the legality. There is no other side to choose. The Catalan people have chosen the side of democracy and on November 9 [date of an unofficial referendum] went to vote in a massive way, challenging the legality of the regime.
A steepevolution in just 10 months
The Podemos’ positions onthe Catalan conflict have progressed in its few months of life. The first statements of its leaders, as we saw, despite being much generalized, offered no doubts about the defense of the right to decide of the Catalan people.
Later, coinciding with the final phase of its Citizen Meeting, the proximity of the 9-N and the electoral expectations, leaders such as Errejín and Monedero started introducing important nuances. The emphasis could no longer be the unconditional defense of the right to decide of the Catalonia people, but the defense that they would have to wait for “the change of the correlation of forces within the Spanish State” because “otherwise the right to decide cannot become effective”. If we interpreted accordingly, it would be the case of waiting for the Podemos victory. Then, with them in government, the “territorial crisis” would be resolved, setting in motion a “constituent process” that would open “doors and windows locked up since 78” [1]; a process in which “everybody and everything” would talk to “build a country” which would have to be “a plural project” where “Galicians, Catalans, Basques or Andalusians” could feel at ease.
But only such a centralist mentality [i.e. which thinks the main issues are decided by the Spanish central government], by no means sensitive to the people’s will, can tell the Catalans – after all we have experienced in the last three years – that we have to for wait a hypothetical victory of Podemos so that we can exercise the right to decide. ThePodemos leaders forget, furthermore that the struggle of the Catalans to exercise the right to self-determination is crucial to change the correlation of forces to which they appeal to ask for patience.
Pablo Iglesias latest statements
But things go further. Currently, since the process of the Citizen Meeting has ended and having Pablo Iglesias as Secretary-General, Podemos took a new step. In statements to the network SER which we have mentioned previously, Iglesias crosses for the first time a large red line. When he says that the government has not the power to unilaterally declare the independence, he puts himself next to the legality of the regime against the democratic legitimacy: of a people who is perfectly entitled to declare unilaterally their independence if this is the will of the majority of Catalans and the regime shut the doors for such people. To establish that “one should not unilaterally exercise the right to decide, without agreement with the State” is to deny, in the practice, the right to the peoples’ self-determination.
Pablo Iglesias’s satetements, so scrupulous with the current law, provoke in us doubts about how the Podemos leaders understand the Constituent process that should put an end to the regime of 78: will we have to wait that Podemos and hypothetical allies get 2/3 of the Spanish parliament seats as set out by the reform procedures of the Constitution? If it is so, we can say, like Don Quixote, “As long as you trust me, friend Sancho! [2]
After our many turns, what reality shows categorically, especially after the case against President Artur Mas, is that there is no other way to ensure the exercise of the right to self-determination other than proclaiming the Republic of Catalonia. This proclamation is the best stimulus that we can offer from Catalonia to the working people and the people of the Spanish State, to give the final kick in the regime of 78 and release the people from their chains. Most importantly, only the respect and the recognition of a free Republic of Catalonia offer the democratic foundation to build the free unit of free peoples, of the Iberian republics, that the working class and the peoples need, and that we need.
[1] It refers to the Constituent Assembly of 1978, still valid today, a consequence of the “transition” by which the monarchy was established after the fall of the fascist regime of Franco.
[2] Spanish expression used by Cervantes in Don Quixote, which means that the time to be waited is too long.

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