Does the PSOE exist?

The only way to explain the absence of a solid Socialist position on Catalan self-determination is that Rubalcaba must be allergic to debate

The division of the Socialist Party's parliamentary vote on the Catalan referendum question has so far taken a surprising form. The discontent of certain party heavyweights has received little attention, while the spotlight has been on Carme Chacón for her abstention - as if this personal question were the big problem. One newspaper gave over three-quarters of their column inches on the issue to her abstention, the only accompanying photo being a large one of the ex-minister.

The main question here -- the vote split between the Catalan party, the PSC, and the national party, the PSOE -- is said to be not particularly serious, or at least a good solution within the framework of "new relations," the exact nature of which are as fleeting as the party's much-touted "federal solution." Lest it be said that the PSOE has done nothing, there were the fines levied for voting against the party line, which moreover fall equally upon the voters against and on the abstainer Chacón. She also comes under the PSC leader Pere Navarro's interdiction on her future in Catalonia. The result? Nothing that can't be mended, while a scapegoat has been found for both the secessionist sector of the PSC and for the PSOE's secretary-general, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, who gets rid of an already-shrunken rival.

In this newspaper, Pere Navarro has said that the bridge of dialogue between Catalonia and the rest of Spain "is the PSOE and the PSC." The grammar here seems contradictory, because if we are looking at two parties, the form ought to be "are;" if it is one party, it should be "the PSOE, and within its framework, the PSC." But Navarro is not about to admit that. Without a clear definition of relations between the PSOE and the PSC, a de facto split on a substantial question means the beginning of the end, implying the former's total impotence, while it does not prevent the latter's fall into the electoral dumps. The result is catastrophic for our country, with the chief party of the left helping to dismantle our constitutional order, though no doubt this allows business as usual to go on at the PSOE's Madrid headquarters.

Lest it be said that the PSOE has done nothing, there were the fines levied for voting against the party line

And even while maintaining support for the referendum in the PSC program, the ERC-CiU move of simply copying the PSC text, to put it in their pro-referendum resolution, was easy to answer. The PSC only needed to demand of the secessionists an admission that the principle of a referendum "within the framework of the law" contradicted the resolution they passed in January in the Catalan parliament -- an admission they would never make. It would also explain the apparent contradiction between the PSC's two votes, against in Barcelona and for in Madrid. All perfectly in order, because two pro-referendum resolutions were proposed in the national Congress, one with a proviso of rigorous legality.

Unless Pere Navarro actually has it in mind to join wholeheartedly the secessionist wave led by CiU and ERC, given the importance of the PSC's attitude, to support them and then to reject independence is simply unspeakable.

In the face of ideas and political debates, Rubalcaba must be somewhat allergic -- otherwise it is hard to understand why he doesn't seem to have held an exhaustive PSOE-PSC discussion on Catalan self-determination. Of course, in taking this passive line, the time might come when he could save face with a mere "no" -- allowing the PSC to support, de facto, the referendum, with no previous debate, thus minimizing costs. In this sense, Navarro's recent anti-monarchy remarks might have been a mere feint so that no one would then feel surprised at his subsequent alignment with CiU-ERC, play-acting that the PSC always thinks for itself.

From that point on, everyone could play his own tune, disregarding the conductor. As if, in a constitutional crisis, a party-that-is-two were in fact a political party and not just an entity concerned only with its own survival.