John Barrass’s editorial on Barcelona Reporter is unduly critical of Catalan national sentiments, and of the groups committed to further autonomy for Catalonia. Indeed, the piece urges readers to ignore threats by a top Spanish military officer that the army would have to intervene should Catalonia – as irrelevant, all the while pointing out that it is Catalan seperatist elements who are the real threat to democracy.
What worries me about these claims is that I don’t believe it’s wise to discount the growing far right sentiment in Spain as unthreatening. The PP have successfully radicalised a large percentage of Spanish conservatives, via groups like the fictitious AVT (Victims of terrorism Association, dedicated to campaigning against PSOE policies and filling PP rallies), via highly suggestive rhetoric (the so called ‘Balkanisation’ of Spain) and by openly referring to ‘the socialists, communists and anarchists’ when what they meant was the centre-left PSOE government. The words ‘communist’ and ‘anarchist’ have a particularly powerful effect on Spaniards of a certain generation.
Barrass also drags up scraps of data about various local initiatives put in place to redress the inbalance caused by nearly forty years of brutal repression. TV3, the regional broadcaster, comes in for special attention. Apparently, it receives ‘far too much funding’, and yet it and 33 are the only watchable channels on Spanish television. What’s the problem with a strong regional broadcaster? The PP invested over five times more in Madrid than in Barcelona when it controlled the central government. Would it be preferable to return to that imbalance? I don’t think so.
Yet again, efforts are being made to ‘split the vote’ in Catalonia, suggesting that non-Catalans living here are somehow at risk of being disenfranchised (or even persecuted!) by the Govern de Catalunya. Needless to say, this is scaremongering. What Barrass is absolutely right on is that the rule of law and democracy must always prevail. Catalonia and Spain share a shameful history of corruption and nepotism. Before anything can really be improved, this culture should be changed.