In English Voices From Spain

A shock nominee

Photo by Kristen Sturdivant on Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish. ‘Candidato de choque’. Editorial. El País.

12th May 2018

Torra’s xenophobic views disqualify him to represent all Catalans

It is hard to believe how low the independentist leaders are going to make the Catalan government fall. The nomination of Quim Torra i Pla as president of the Generalitat confirms the most disturbing character of its project: the building of an independent Catalonia in confrontation with the half of Catalonia and the rest of Spain and in line with the European ultra-nationalist xenophobic movements. Even the way the candidate has been chosen, designated by Puigdemont, confirms the authoritarian personalistic drift of secessionism.

The first statements by Torra as nominee leave no margin for doubts. There will be a place for the Government “in exile”, efforts will be made to meet the “mandate of October 1st”, which implies to restore the rupture laws passed by the Catalan Parliament and voided by Constitutional Court, and a move toward a “constitutional process”. These are more than disturbing words because, unless they remain as mere rhetoric, they imply the beginning of a new unilateral process of independence determined to violate again the Constitution and the Catalan Statute and keep on provoking the clash with more than half of Catalan voters.

The xenophobic profile of this lawyer and essayist exacerbates the crisis. He has apologized for his contemptuous offensive comments against the Spaniards and he has deleted them from the social network where they were posted. He has apologized by saying that he published them six years ago and that what matters are the facts, not the words. It is a poor and scanty apology from someone who has not made clear if he still thinks that Spaniards only can plunder, as he then believed. His undeletable ideology is connected to the xenophobic movements of the European far-right. Catalan independentism, which began its rupture process with a promise of a new democracy “in a Republic form”, is more similar to the ethnicistic nationalism of Viktor Orbán in Hungary than to Europeanist republicanism of Emmanuel Macron. It is not a surprise. Puigdemont strengthened the ties, during his runaway in Belgium, with the N-VA Flemish nationalists and the Vlaams Belang racist neonazis.

Junts per Catalunya is following a path with a difficult return, from the centrists and liberals to whom Convergència was aligned with in the past to the anti-European far-right parties. In the Catalan case —another exceptional feature—, it converges with the ERC republican left, signaling a distancing from unilateral independentism and yet it has result in a claudication to Carles Puigdemont’s follies and dictates. Is Torra really a candidate for Junqueras and ERC as head of Catalonia’s government? Is he really the appropriate person to represent the dignity of Catalan self-government and institutions before the rest of Spain and Europe? Can someone with such ethnic prejudices and so little democratic disposition lead a fruitful dialogue?

The choice of Torras is an awful signal, specially for Catalans, because it is a promise of clash and unlawfulness instead of policies to solve their real problems.     

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