Outside of Catalonia, many analysts are flabbergasted. How is it possible that a large sector of Catalonian society -from
amateur agitators to professional associations- are mistaking the work of the Civil Guard [a Spanish national police force –
TN], following court instructions, for an authoritarian repression? Why do so many in the international media fixate on the
images of the pro-referendum demonstrations instead of the myriad reasons for calling it off?
The cause is that the Spanish government has undervalued communication. They opted for hiding the responses they would
launch to each of the steps taken by the Generalitat [Catalonian regional government -TN] in its secessionist drift.
The legitimacy of a State depends on its predictability. It rests on everyone knowing that, faced with action A, the state will
do B. What separates a legitimate Leviathan from other armed monsters is that its blows are predictable. Administrations
that act by surprise beget mistrust.
In the Catalonian crisis, the Spanish government has chosen secrecy. A tactic more typical of an insecure state, or an
ambitious guerrilla, than of a solid democracy. With snap actions, Ministers, senior officers, state attorneys, public
prosecutors and members of the security agencies they have dismantled the preparations for October 1st [Date of the
planned independence referendum -TN]. But, due to the lack of a prior explanation, many citizens have interpreted these
fast reactions as coercive and degrading actions.
Furthermore, the after-the-fact explanations are monopolized by the Prime Minister and cabinet members. The faces of the
state all belong to PP [The ruling conservative party -TN]. The many institutions facing the secessionist challenge, no matter
how independent they actually are from each other, all project a partisan image.
Following the wake of other countries, Spain should aspire to have a more multi-faceted state apparatus, with frequent
remarks from its [non-partisan -TN] officials justifying their specific actions.
Itʼs up for debate if, in the face of the secessionist challenge, some actions have been too much. But thereʼs no question that the words have been too few.