Photo by Eduardo Sánchez on Unsplash
30th April 2018
Last week we reached the half-year mark since the application of the Article 155 of Constitution. After bordering on the civil conflict, the declaration by president Rajoy was a relief —also for many independentists. The cessation of an entire regional government and dozens of officers has not altered the operation of the administration. Public services operate as usual. And payments come earlier. On the other hand, the call to elections caught the independentists who stood for election with two promises —the release of incarcerated politicians and ending the application of Article 155— wrong-footed. The implementation of the Republic was no longer credible after the runaway of some of their lead actors, but, while the first promise is at judge’s hands, the second one only requires the formation of a government in accordance with law. However, the months go by and only the “processologists” understand this paralysis. We can argue that the separatist factions are concealing its internecine fights with their mirror theory. They claim they provoke fake inaugurations to show the world the alleged authoritarism of the State. A “master move”, all in all.
Against some expectations, under the Article 155, the Catalans who support independence in the opinion polls are fewer and fewer everyday. The companies’ exodus? The non-existent international support to the cause? The lies in general? The tiredness? Who knows. The reasons for this decline are as multiple as insufficiently studied. However, the vote intention to independentist parties does not diminish. It is the power of communitarism. They could be reckless liars, but they are our reckless liars. Besides, the tan-tan is still at work. TV3 has exhausted its credibility outside the independentist sphere, but inside it is still a powerful agent of agitprop.
If they form a government in Puigdemont’s shadow, maybe they will not break the law again so blatantly, but there is no doubt that they will not work for reconciliation. Rather, they would continue with what Daniel Gascón has described as “postmodern coup”, that way of breaking apart with the state without noticing the moment the red line is actually crossed, of disguising violation of law as democracy or selling imposition and intimidation as pacific. Bully victimism, says Gascón.
In the end, a coup was stopped, but nothing suggests that they are not waiting for a better time to deliver the next one. Constitutionalism has won the battle of facts, but no one has surrendered in the strategic war of language. Debunking a lie is costlier than throw it up to the social media. Populism is a step ahead, but it is in this arena of language where the future of democracy is at stake. And Western countries do not seem yet ready for that communicative front. It is one of the soft spots of the young Spanish democracy, but also of older ones, as the British or the American. Mark Thompson highlighted it in his book Enough Said: the modern government is communication, but ministries lack of writers, graphic artists or multimedia producers. When this 155 is over, the battle for the words will continue. An investment in narrative could prevent us another autumn in the abyss.