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When negotiating means haggling

Yesterday’s session in the Spanish parliament was a foreword to the traditional Columbus Day military parade celebrating Spain’s National Holiday in Madrid. Apparently there was no billy goat in the chamber [1], but the spirit that has brought the feud between Catalonia and Spain to this point was pervasive.

There was no apology for the crackdown on October 1, no gesture or sign of goodwill, not even a hairline crack hinting that a negotiation is possible. Quite the opposite: Rajoy formally presented himself as the champion of dialogue while starting the countdown to trigger Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which can impose Madrid’s direct rule on Catalonia and allow action against the Catalan president.

It was as if time had stopped and Rajoy’s Partido Popular felt snug in the nostalgia for “pro-Europe constitutional Catalanism”, forgetting how they actively helped to choke it to death. Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera upped the PP’s ante on the right with the most outdated Spanish nationalist speech heard in the chamber. He referred to any negotiation as “haggling”, “blackmail” and “dark table”. It was Basque lawmaker Aitor Esteban who brought the old Spanish Civil War adage “You will win, but you won’t persuade” to the 21st century, when he addressed Rajoy and pointed out the premier’s dilemma: “Either you win or you solve the conflict”.

Today is the day of the military parade and next Monday Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is expected to reply to Madrid’s formal request that will trigger Spain’s direct rule on Catalonia. Once again, many will have concluded that dialogue is impossible. The PSOE’s spokesperson has made it clear that her party intends to support PM Mariano Rajoy. Or, rather, whatever is left of it will.


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Translator’s note:

[1] The yearly military parade on October 12 traditionally features a marching billy goat which is the Spanish Legion’s mascot.

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EDICIÓ PAPER 10/12/2017

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