The most shocking aspect of the Fernández Díaz tapes —the leaked recordings of the Spanish Home Secretary plotting against Catalan leaders— is the lack of outrage. In Spain, such a blatant disregard for basic democratic principles has not come as a shock but, rather, has been met with indifference, even sympathy. Even worse than a minister’s wrongdoings is a society’s indifference.
Deep down, there is a major perception error. On a recent Spanish TV show they asked PP voters in a posh Madrid neighbourhood if they were familiar with the issue and what they thought of it. Most respondents approved of the Spanish minister’s actions: if Catalans cast the first stone by attempting to become independent —which is obviously illegal—, then no wonder the State responded in kind.
This argument is not only brutish but also untrue. They believe that the State has violated the rules of democratic play in answer to Catalonia’s independence bid. I actually think it is the other way round: independence has become popular in Catalonia (perhaps with a majority support) in part due to the poor quality of Spain’s democracy. The secession movement is not the cause but the consequence of Spain’s choice of a low-quality democracy, drenched in sociological Francoism. And when the State sticks to its guns, the effect is even greater: who wouldn’t want to leave a country like that?