This newspaper has learnt that later this week the Catalan Parliament will convene an unscheduled session whose purpose can be no other than to proclaim independence right away and kick off the Catalan republic. It is no coincidence that the session will likely be held while the Spanish senate is gathered to approve —just with the votes of the PP senators, if necessary— the decree that Mariano Rajoy has prepared following a rather peculiar interpretation of what Article 155 of the Spanish constitution allows the Spanish PM to do. This decree is a coup d’état that is far too reckless, even for Rajoy, as proven by the reactions of socialist leaders in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, following the objectionable part played by Spain’s PSOE, socialist leader Pedro Sánchez and his Catalan partner Miquel Iceta, specifically. I am quite sure that it is no longer necessary to explain how Rajoy’s decree is at odds with the content of the Spanish constitution itself. Professor Marcel Mateu has already done that magnificently in an article. However, I would like to point out a couple of things.
First, this move didn’t come out of the blue, even if the PP is trying to present it as a reaction to the events that have unfolded this month. It was on January 31 2006 when the PP launched a petition campaign against the Catalan statute and, outside the Spanish parliament, Mariano Rajoy himself paraded boxes full of signature forms [to protest Catalonia’s new charter]. Then came the PP’s complaint lodged with the Constitutional Court, which was followed by the court’s ruling. So, all in all, the PP has been aiming to terminate Catalonia’s self-rule for at least eleven years. I say at least because we mustn’t forget that, back when the PP was known as AP, they voted against the Spanish constitution —the same one which they now claim to fight for, tooth and nail— and were quite vocal against any system of devolved regional powers.
My second point is a powerful detail that got my attention and I believe has mostly gone unnoticed. During his statement, Mariano Rajoy had the gall to explicitly say the following: “My interlocutor was chosen by others, and now they will be held accountable for their choice”. That is a verbatim quote and his words were an explicit threat aimed at the entire Catalan electorate. What did the Spanish PM mean by saying that we will all be held accountable for our votes? Who does he think he is, to scorn the people’s will like that? The people of Catalonia voted for whomever they wanted to, which is what happens in a democratic election, period. Rajoy’s words on this point publicly reveal a fascist mentality, which does not come as a surprise but is still deeply disturbing.
Now everything points to this week. VilaWeb has ascertained that, some time towards the end of the week, the Catalan Parliament will take clear steps. We are not in a position to say what those will be. Our Junts pel Sí parliamentary sources merely indicated that they will be “clear”. But there is little room for evasion: activating the Republic would be the only reasonable course of action. That is why, apparently, they have chosen this week: so that it coincides with the session of the Spanish senate. Proclaiming the republic days earlier might prompt Spain to attempt to arrest the Catalan government without triggering Article 155, which will cause them no end of problems, eventually. Declaring our independence while Spain declares a dictatorship means everything will be crystal clear and the procedures will be activated with neither trickery nor subterfuge.
Make no mistake: I am certain that the Parliament of Catalonia will do its job. But we will also have important work to do, even more important than theirs. Later this week, as the rules of the game change in Madrid and Barcelona simultaneously, absolutely everything that we have known so far will formally cease to be the law and, therefore, it will all boil down to a factual struggle. So it will be the people, organised in the streets, who will determine who comes out the winner and who the loser.
In a few days the Catalan Republic and the new ancient Spain without autonomous regions will face off in every playing field and on every decision. The winner will be the one who proves on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that it is the real, effective government of the Principality of Catalonia. It will only be a matter of time. If our police obey the Generalitat’s orders, we will win. But if Rajoy controls them, we will lose. If banks abide by the law, we will win; but if they seize our money on PP’s orders, we will lose. If local councils take orders from Spanish ministers, we will lose. And if they ignore them, we will win. If our schools stay the course, we will win. Otherwise, we will not. If Catalonia’s MPs can enter the chamber and take their seats, we will win; if not, we will lose. If the Spanish police manages to break into the Palau de la Generalitat to arrest Puigdemont, we will lose. And, if all of us prevent it, then we will win.
That is what has happened in every independence process across the world: there comes a time when a particular article of some law no longer matters; only what the people say does. And, above all, what people do. By shattering its own constitution, Spain has put us in the most favourable of positions, from an international standpoint: that of the last resort remedy. We will only be able to defend the self-government that our autonomy used to embody by proclaiming the republic. And we will only be able to defend democracy by proclaiming the republic. That is the only possibility. So buckle up and step on it. The same people who couldn’t even find a single ballot box now claim that they will govern us. The same people that were fooled by the 4,000 clandestine volunteers who helped to organise the referendum now claim that they will control us. The same ones who couldn’t stop over two million of us from going to the polls now claim that they will thwart our plans to exist … So, get ready again because —politically speaking— next weekend will be the most important weekend of our lives.