In English Voices From Spain

To Defend and Protect

Photo by Alessia Cocconi on Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish: «Guardar y hacer guardar». Rafael Latorre. El Mundo.

3rd June 2018

Maybe Ramón González Férriz is right when he says that Catalonia is not as secularized as we thought. There are huge differences if we compare the passionate inauguration of President Torra’s government with the sober inauguration of Prime Minister Sánchez at La Zarzuela Palace. No Crucifix, no Bible, just the bare essentials, that is, the Constitution; the socialist leader promised on his honor “to abide by [the Constitution] and ensure that it is abided by”. For the very first time, some actual attention was paid to the formality; because it is also the very first time that a Prime Minister takes over with the support of a group of parties that only have in common their rejection of Spanish national sovereignty, that is, the foundation on which the constitutional building rests. So the oath was heard and it was not the usual murmur of the old days.

During the party held at Sant Jordi hall in the Generalitat Palace, events went in the opposite direction as they had at La Zarzuela. They had everything but the essential: a Constitution. It was not needed, since President Torra only commits himself to the “service of Catalonia”; we would need to look back very deep in the European 20th Century to find something that could rival such an autocratic statement. If we take heed to what he says, and there is no reason not to do it as Torra is perhaps the most sincere nationalist politician we have ever met, the new Catalan government will have no other constraints than its own conscience, the same that inspired the supremacist prose of his so-called journalistic articles. Having no limits, he can announce without blushing that he will “push ahead towards the establishment of an independent state”. So far, the only thing he’s got is regaining constitutional self-rule, which he celebrated with the ridiculous style that nationalism uses to disguise sinister matters.

Two statues of Sant Jordi presided the room. The King’s picture was covered by a black cloth. Relatives of former members of the regional government read resignation and gratitude letters and were saluted by the new members. This is all a sentimental excess, as was President Torra’s mournful inauguration, and same as it was with the government members’ oath ceremony with all the medieval props – more suitable for a school performance. Under the thick yellow molasses of martyrdom and a promised land, lies a supremacist emboldened by the new circumstances. That’s why in just half a month he went from the almost clandestine sobriety of Verge de Montserrat hall to the party at Sant Jordi hall.

While a Constitution over a table stripped of any religious symbols awaited Prime Minister Sánchez, president Torra led a liturgy that was all religion, without Constitution. It’s understandable that Ciudadanos, the party that won the last election in Catalonia, chose not to attend the ceremony. It was intended only for true believers, as presaged by the yellow ribbon that welcomed all those who joined the show.

Two nights before, festivities in Berga were opened with a street ceremony that can’t be faithfully described without betraying Godwin’s law. It was like Leni Riefensthal filming Triumph of the Will in Hernani during the lead years.

Now we can only expect President Sánchez to do what he promised on his honor at La Zarzuela Palace, because there’s no doubt that President Torra will deliver on what he promised at Sant Jaume Palace.

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