Not Just by Artur Mas


Miguel Angel Quintanilla Navarro, Director of the Publishing department, FAES Foundation


The president of the Catalan National Assembly has stated that if 'we as a country should decide that the consultation is not to be held and that an alternative should be offered, it will not be decided just by Mas'. This is an important statement for several reasons.

First, because there is a clear contradiction in asserting that the Catalans need to vote on November 9 so that their political will becomes known while simultaneously claiming that the process that is being promoted until that day or beyond that day is driven by the political will of Catalonia 'as a country'. This implies, at least, one of three things: either there is a way to know what the political will of the Catalans is without holding the November 9 vote, in which case it would not be true that the consultation they want to hold on the 9th is the only valid form of political expression of the Catalans; or a great sham is being staged, a pretence to being the Catalan people while knowing perfectly well that they are not, since in the absence of a consultation no one can know what the Catalans think, let alone decide anything 'as a country'; or the political will of the Catalans does not match the political will of 'the country', which should cause some concern, particularly among the Catalans: if the political will of the country is not that of the Catalans, then whose is it?

Second, that statement is important because it indicates a bad relationship with reality. That something is not possible is not a decision but a fact. It's not that they decide that the consultation is not possible, but that the query is not possible, regardless of the decision; thus, that fact will be followed in any case by other decisions, but about other things, not about whether it is possible or not to hold anything on November 9.

But above all, this statement is very important for a third reason: it clearly states the path that the Community will follow if things continue as they are. 'Not just by Mas,' the president of the ANC states. That is, a private individual sets herself on the spotlight telling the regional President of the Generalitat how things should be done and adding that leadership does not belong to the institutions but to civil society, i.e., to her.

This, which in any consideration guided by the Theory of the State is an obvious anomaly is, nevertheless, the logical consequence of the anti-institutional discourse that is being developed in Catalonia. When the regional Parliament of Catalonia eliminates its own legitimacy by consciously ignoring the decisions of its Constitutional Court, as it did yesterday; when the Catalan Government explicitly and grotesquely opposess the law that makes it possible and holds it on the one hand, and 'real democracy' on the other; and finally, when the regional President, his Government and the Catalan Parliament voluntarily choose to become mere private individuals by stating that the rules that single them out and empower them–i. e. the legitimate right to be obeyed and the obligation to rule within their jurisdiction–are not binding, it's only normal that someone will dispute their opinion and rank. This is the situation created in Catalonia, the effects of which are now beginning to become evident.

Calling yourself the '129th' seriously, with full current political sense, has the small problem that, in that case, many twisted winding roads to be 130th are thus enabled.

'Where there is no law, there can be no slander' the assertion says. In other words, there is nothing illegal because there is nothing legal. What is being done in Catalonia is voluntarily leading a society into the deepest power vacuum. And replacing an entire legal corpus for another is not particularly easy.

Leaving aside the legal, political and moral objections already well-known–see the FAES report 20 Questions and Answers on the Secession of Catalonia–from a purely practical, operational, point of view, what's actually becoming fairly clear is that the 'process' which the ANC has in its head 'as a country' leads directly to a civil conflict 'in Catalonia'. But not because of a confrontation between secessionists and non-secessionists, but because in the absence of a law recognised as legitimate, what immediately appears is not the dawn of a fraternal nation, but the starkest power struggle 'within secessionism itself.' That is what the president of the ANC is really talking about, and all the electoral calculations that are being made there are actually referring to that.

It is said that before Spain breaks, Catalonia will break. And it is obvious that this is true. We could add that before Catalonia breaks, secessionism will break.

The positive version of this is also known: 'Catalonia can only stay together if it remains Spanish. '