SUSO DE TORO
One thing is for sure: Rajoy is on his way out. And with him, many other leading political players of recent years will be taking a back seat. But after going over and over the results, figures, and combinations, the reason for the crisis of State that these elections were meant to solve remains unresolved: to put an end to the demands of Catalan society.
The election campaign was a media barrage by land, sea, and air in all Spanish news outlets. The viewers of TVE, Cuatro, Antena 3, and La Sexta had the four main parties shoved down their throats like there was no tomorrow. Broadcast media in Madrid, with the complicity of Spain’s Central Electoral Committee, chose to ignore not only the parties from the Canary Islands, Navarre, the Basque Country, Galicia, and Catalonia that had parliamentary representation, but also two parties that were an nuisance to the Emerging Operation: IU and UPyD. This drastic streamlining of Spain’s party system aimed to achieve two objectives: guaranteeing a government that would accept the continuation of the policies handed down from the European Commission and putting an end to the Catalan demand for sovereignty or independence.
The show of strength by the powers behind these media was overwhelming. Nevertheless, no process is completely predictable. Fortunately, life somehow keeps finding its way into the machine through randomness, and the election results were disastrous for them.
In the face of this spectacle, not only is the European Commission worried, but so is the Spanish Royal Household. When considering the imminent political scenario, Spanish pundits seem to have forgotten —or be unaware— that the head of State is the King. But it's a peculiarity of Spanish democracy: the pretense of freedom by simulating forgetfulness and blindness.
The fact is that the new King will be forced to immediately assume an active role in the process of forming a government. And it will be a very complicated task, because government by "grand coalition"--a possibility that was already being probed by the State’s apparatus a year ago and is now being considered again-- will be impossible. First of all, it's not credible because it represents the exact opposite of what the vote expressed: a criticism of the two main parties and a desire for change. It would be seen as a betrayal of the spirit of the vote and would lead to a de-legitimization of the head of State himself. Secondly, it would lead to the PSOE’s demise, as there is now another party, Podemos, that is already chipping away at it and would proceed to harvest its discontented voters.
An alternative government made up of the PSOE in alliance with other groups is also impossible. Podemos' precondition of a Catalan referendum has been rejected by some of the PSOE’s regional power brokers. Up until a few years ago, the PSOE tried took pride in representing Spain’s territorial diversity well enough, but today it is a party that represents, fundamentally, the southern half of Spain: Andalusia, Extremadura, and Castilla-La Mancha. For years, a good deal of the voters there were educated, also by socialist leaders, in an anti-Catalan Spanish patriotism that now makes the party incapable of proposing any initiative in favor of Catalonia, let alone offering a true referendum. Besides, Podemos has been able to take advantage of this inability, and is already presenting itself as the only Spanish party capable of offering a way out.
Needless to say, it will take weeks and months for the powers-that-be, and also for the King, to accept this; there will be failures in the formation of a government ... and new elections that will confirm, once again, that the independence process is not a Catalan dessert that Madrid can easily bite into. But for the State to propose a referendum, it is necessary to confirm that the Catalans will still be here when Spain wakes from its slumber.
For now, the election results confirm that the majority of the Catalan electorate maintains its demand for sovereignty, the so-called right to decide, to the extent that Podemos/En Comú Podem --which was the most voted party in Catalonia-- and other parties maintain that demand. The growth of this candidacy is unsurprising, but the true novelty is the strong loyalty to those parties that are moving forward with the process of building the structures of an independent Catalonia. It's hard to explain how they have managed to maintain their support, given the long, pathetic spectacle that they are offering in their attempt to reach agreement on who the next Catalan president will be.
There are four political forces that could agree on a basic Catalan national pact, as Esquerra, Convergència, and the CUP, even while pursuing their road to creating institutions for a Catalan state, could not reject the offer of a referendum proposed by Podemos/En Comú Podem. If none of those groups broke the agreement, Catalonia would find a solution, whatever that might be, for this historic occasion and with the clear democratic support of society.
But what awaits us in the weeks and months to come is unpredictable, because the Spanish national culture sees dialogue and negotiated agreement as an enemy. Even if we assume that the Spanish parties might learn to negotiate and reach agreements, what they could never stomach is pact of sovereignties, a pact between Spain and Catalonia. It is a scenario that causes much anxiety in some of the population but which, in particular, does not suit the powers of the State at all. Only the failure of every other formula, combined with foreign pressure, would oblige the powers in Madrid to yield on this point.