Monday, 1 January 2007

2006: a missed opportunity. Another one.

In terms of Catalan politics, 2006 surely will be remembered because of the farce of the Estatut. A text approved in the Catalan Parliament by all parties except the loonies of the PP on September 2005, is then watered down is a shambolic round of negotiations between CiU and PSOE. ERC, the only party that remain loyal to the text approved in September was then kick out of government for campaigning in favour of a No vote on the text watered down between CiU and PSOE.

The referendum on the new text delivered the expected results, so no surprises there.

Was so much pain necessary to achieve so little? Moreover, Catalonia had to suffer the xenophobic commercial boycott promoted by the Spanish Right and their sidekicks in the press: El Mundo, ABC, Libertad Digital, COPE, etc.

We then had the elections in November, and there were some pleasant (ERC held well considering the circumstances) and unpleasant (the appearance of the anti-Catalan, populist, Ciudadanos).

CiU was again the most voted party. ERC had a tough choice to make: either form a coalition government with CiU or a repeat of the Tripartite of the Left again, even though this would mean making President Don José Montilla, a man that sat in the opposite table during the negotiations of the failed Estatut. Montilla is an emigrant from the south of Spain. If anything, this proves that ERC is a modern, socialdemocrat, European-style party: it has agreed a coalition with someone like Montilla. Any claims that ERC are hardcore Catalan nationalists is nonsense. It is a modern proindependence party, and rightly so, but there is no nationalism within ERC: otherwise, Montilla would not be President.

By the way, I look forward to the day when a Spanish party (PP or PSOE) selects a Catalan for the Prime Minister job, and keep the first name in Catalan without translating it into Spanish. As we say in Scotland, “Aye right!”.

I have been in Barcelona for a week over Christmas and the situation cannot be any worse in terms of survival of the Catalan language. There are two new terrestrial TV channels, completely in Spanish and the freesheets given in public transport are 90% in Spanish. All the time I was in the Metro or the RENFE trains, I hardly heard anyone having a conversation in Catalan. I don’t see the language surviving for another generation or two, unless something very drastic happens.

On the other hand, I have to admit that public transport is so much better, we even have night buses to Caldes de Montbuï!

With these cheery thoughts, I wish you all a Happy New Year 2007.

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