A few questions
Will Artur Mas resist the huge pressures on him, chiefly from the Catalan business elite?
Though the evictions and the general strike brought the reality principle to bear for a while on the Catalan electoral campaign, it soon snapped back to the routine prescribed by CiU: secessionism against continued union with Spain. CiU and the PP, brothers in whatever concerns money, have thus managed to banish talk about the economic and social crisis. Only a few details remain to be decided: whether CiU will have a clear majority or not (unlikely in a seven-party system), and who will be the second-ranking force: PP, PSC or ERC. In other words, how deep will the debacle of the PSC be? And some other questions for the day after.
Firstly, will Artur Mas resist the huge pressures on him, chiefly from the Catalan business elite? The elites, within and without Catalonia, are worried, because some think a break with Spain would mean a breakup of the euro. They dislike the situation, and feel betrayed by the premier, whom they considered a bulwark for their interests. Now they console themselves, saying that Mas stepped to the head of the independence movement in order to control it, and that the force of things - that is, of money - will bring the floodwaters back into their channel: after the elections, CiU will again function as Madrid's viceroy in Catalonia. All this fuss about secession - is it not just political theater? Mas and Rajoy, they say, must find some point of agreement. What point? Nobody seems able to say exactly.
The question as to Mas' real intentions is linked to two further questions: Will Catalan society go on roaring for independence, or will enthusiasm cool as difficulties emerge? And, has Mariano Rajoy anything to propose, to make a deal possible?
What will Rajoy do? Put proposals on the table that Artur Mas can hardly refuse, or let the situation fester?
Secessionism is far from being a homogeneous or stabilized force. There is a hardcore growing of late, of people for whom independence is a matter of principle and right. There is a secessionism resulting from frustration and from the crisis, and a secessionism associated with the new generation. Lastly there is a secessionism resulting from the political normalization of a question that was taboo until not long ago. It might be explained thus: if they give you the opportunity of saying whether or not you want your country to have a state of its own, it is hard to say no.
These are different degrees of commitment, different degrees of resistance. If the process grows prolonged and complicated, the enthusiasm may wane, but it may also wax, should there be a growing feeling of grievance and of Spanish disdain.
So now we come to the third question: What will Rajoy do? Put proposals on the table that Artur Mas can hardly refuse, or let the situation fester, using the law as an excuse for refusing any negotiation, in line with those who say that the mere fact of accepting a referendum would in itself be treason? To let time wear down expectations is just his sort of technique. But would it wear down secessionist feeling, or incite it? Sensible voices are advising him to seek some point of encounter. Is there any? A fiscal pact sounds impossible. And after all the tempest he has raised, Artur Mas would have to go home and sit down. The ridicule would be legendary.
One question remains: How do we reconstruct the Catalan left? Until now it seemed that it could only be reconstructed on the basis of the PSC. Now the parameters are changing. It will probably be reconstructed with the PSC, but not actually by the PSC, which in the last five years has lost almost all its capital: political, social, moral and ideological. In any case, Catalonia needs a re-balancing of its political system, which is heavily slanted to the right, even since the PSC was left standing with nothing to say, and no plan of what to do.