EDITORIAL
Editorials
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The difficulty of deciding

After the rebellion of three of its deputies, the Catalan Socialist Party has some tough decisions to make

The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) has a bitter pill to swallow. It must decide what to do with the three deputies who broke the party line by voting in favor of a resolution calling on the national Congress to permit a referendum on independence for the northeastern region. So far, and only provisionally, the three deputies concerned have been relieved of their duties on various parliamentary committees. But a definitive decision is still pending on their future. The party leadership can exert some influence on this matter, but the final ruling will be made by the parliamentary rights and guarantees committee. This, in short, is a question of whether these “rebel” members are to be expelled from the regional parliament — a question that is not only an issue for the party, but also has a bearing on the quality of democracy in Spain.

The combination of several lines of argument points to the need for a drastic solution. Among these arguments are: the high level of in-party agreement that was ignored by the rebels; the unity and coherence needed from political parties, which, as instruments of representation, must defend clear positions, so as not to confuse the electorate; the principle of defending the credibility of a position, once adopted; the fact that this was not an issue of minor significance, but quite the opposite; and finally, that this was not a matter of concern to the private conscience of the deputies.

Those who rule on the matter must bear in mind to what extent their decision may damage the PSC’s efforts to regain its widespread appeal, something that has long afforded the room for people with a range of principles and cultural traditions to coexist within the party. As such, it would become one of the major cohesive political forces in modern Catalonia (the other being CiU), providing the foundations for a plural society. Solving this dilemma is not the task of the media, but it is their duty to point out possible shortcomings in the decisions taken by party leaders, who cannot shirk their duty.

Whatever the outcome, this episode will leave the PSC badly bruised, even if its party secretary has had the political courage to mark out clear positions in such a muddled matter, at the risk of losing some of the party’s voter base on its flanks (to the Popular Party and Ciutadans on the one hand, and to CiU and Esquerra on the other). That said, he has been unable to convincingly explain the leap from generic support for the holding of a “legal and agreed” referendum, to his outright refusal to take further steps along the road to seeking the agreement for this vote.

But when a political scene is as polarized as the Catalan one is now, it is a more than arduous task to distinguish black from white, and to establish clear intermediate positions. Meanwhile, the fissures in the PSC need not be gloated over by rival parties: they may well foreshadow similar divisions in other groups.

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