Idling as a method to move forward, by Jordi Mercader

Pedro Sanchez undertakes the second part of its mandate with three strategic axes: rebuild the economy, ‘gripalizar’ la pandemic Y slow down the Catalan conflict. It was announced by the President of the Government and confirmed by the legislative agenda approved in the last Council of Ministers, which contemplates 368 initiatives, 40% of which are linked to the economic recovery plan agreed with the European Union. In the regulatory annual plan the reform of the Penal Code does not appear to reconsider sedition and rebellion, nor any Crown law to begin updating the monarchical institution.

In January 2020, when the legislature was inaugurated, the priorities were five: to strengthen economic growth, territorial understanding, social justice, digital transformation and full equality for women. The pandemic has changed everything, but not that much. Four of these five objectives are easily subsumable in the reconstruction of the country that the virus forces. The fifth, territorial solutions, are formally left for later. There is no scientific evidence that prevents facing territorial policy parallel to the economic reconstruction, beyond complicating life, of course. Until now, Sánchez has been characterized as a risky politician, hence it does not seem risky to suspect that the slowdown in the negotiation with the Generalitat (the initial basis of all territorial policy, experience tells us) does not respond to the incompatibility with the economic and health emergencies as has been justified, but to a tactical decision with which he hopes to gain an advantage for his position.

Idling is the way to keep the engine running when the vehicle is stationary. It doesn’t stall but it doesn’t move either. This is the expectation announced by Pedro Sánchez to the Government of Pere Aragonès for the coming months regarding the (sole) priority of the Generalitat, which is none other, officially, than the holding a self-determination referendum, preceded by an amnesty. The President of the Government can make this decision because he must know, or at least sense, that in the current circumstances, no one in Spain or Europe is going to recriminate him, except for the Catalan separatists, of course.

In any case, the slowdown at the negotiation table should not be confused with a defensive position but rather as a way of moving towards the only resolution that Moncloa believes possible. The passage of time is lethal for the pro-independence leaders, who continue to proclaim that the republic is just around the corner; instead it is a blessing for those sovereigntists who are looking for a substantial strategic rectification and it is necessary to believe that Aragonès is one of them. For the other half of Catalans, each day that passes is a relief. Some of the leaders of the secessionist movement, those nostalgic for the vibrant days of defeat, have rightly warned that institutional and political normality is the main adversary at the moment.

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The Sánchez government considers the degree of normalization achieved in Catalonia to be good, although political blocs remain intact that prevent the recovery of transversality. On the other hand, it is not a secret that the final offer that one day he is going to propose for the deepening of Catalan self-government is not going to be satisfactory for the pro-independence majority and perhaps not even for a part of progressive Catalanism. Only a previous constitutional reform would grant it a substantial margin of maneuver and the objective conditions to address it are not in sight in the short term.

Sánchez cannot be in any hurry to speed up the negotiating table. It has no proposal other than that allowed in the constitutional framework and, like everyone else, perceives the wear and tear that the independence movement entails. compromise as a political offer and the reconciliation as horizon. For the success of his plan, he only needs ERC to withstand pressure from Junts and continue to accept the existence of the Table itself as good. In the worst case, Aragonès will get up, giving him the exclusive of the dialogue.

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