Photo by Jose Francisco Morales on Unsplash
Originally published in Spanish. ‘El decadente ventrílocuo de Berlín’ Javier Ayuso. El País.
15th May 2018
Carles Puigdemont is wrong if he believes he’s always going to be able to pull the strings on Quim Torra, the new Catalan president. The scene that will unfold today in Berlin (with the fugitive former president acting as the puppeteer and the just appointed as the puppet), that of a ventriloquist acting without moving his lips, cannot last for long. Sooner or later, Torra will notice how much power he wields and will kill his father, just like Puigdemont did with Artur Mas.
Power is a virus that takes over the organism of the individual and when it reaches the brain it makes him enjoy it, augment it and keep it for as long as possible. It is true that in this case the president who declared independence has managed to create a sort of magic symbolism that places him at the apex of Catalanism, despite being just a lackluster crackpot that drove the procés off a cliff.
The question who long will the Berlin ventriloquist last talking through Quim Torra’s mouth. The answer is hard to ascertain, taking into account the great number of unknown issues that sill persist in Catalonia.
In the first place, it’s still unknown who the new cabinet members will be. It is established that Junts per Catalunya and ERC will divide split the posts evenly, but there’s no confirmation of who will take the vice-presidencies and other important positions. The fugitive former president will surely place his most trusted followers at the top of the regional government, but Oriol Junqueras, who so far has not dared openly fight against the fugitive, will have something to say from his imprisonment if he doesn’t want to watch how his party continues melting like an ice cream in the Sun.
Additionally, the ongoing judicial procedures will play a significant role in Catalan politics during the coming months. Extraditions, disqualifications… Or, on the contrary, now-jailed leaders being set free. What some European countries’ courts decide and judge Llarena himself decide will give more or less prominence to the new president.
And last, the electoral agenda of the secessionist parties will be key in establishing how much power Torra will assume. At the earliest, a new regional election can be held in Catalonia on December 21st. There’s also the option of holding it at the same time as the municipal elections next spring. Or holding out for the whole term, messing up, feinting and even going all the way in a new process towards independence.
Too many unknown aspects on a game board where, so far, everyone loses: secessionists and constitutionalists. What is clear is that, at some point, Puigdemont will stop setting the agenda in Catalonia from Berlin or Waterloo. His time is running out; he is a decadent ventriloquist.