From 27-S to Spain's constituent process

The result of the plebiscitary election on 27 September in Catalonia will be decisive in configuring its national and social future

The result of the plebiscitary election on 27 September in Catalonia will be decisive in configuring its national and social future. Firstly, it will determine whether Catalans opt for creating a new independent European state or remaining as part of Spain. Secondly, it will define the social profile that Catalan society wants.

Should the Catalan Parliament have a majority of pro-independence representatives, then according to the expected roadmap, a debate will begin on the contents of a Catalan constitution that, in any case, will be put to a referendum. In parallel, there will be a negotiation with Spain regarding the separation. The process will have to be resolved in no longer than 18 months.

If the elections do not result in a pro-independence majority of representatives, a very confusing situation will result, as the parties that oppose independence (both for national and social reasons) have divergent or opposed views. Think about the variety of proposals that exist among the PSC, the PP, UDC, Ciudadanos, ICV- EUiA, and Podemos, even if the latter two are included in the platform Catalonia Sí que es Pot (“Catalonia Yes We Can”). It could result in a Catalan parliament with a leftist majority, but the fit of Catalonia within Spain would generate constant tensions, as transforming society and enacting social policies require resources and infrastructures that Madrid denies us.

At the end of the year there will be general elections in Spain. The first great debate will revolve around the urgent need to change the current Spanish Constitution of 1978. Some propose reforming it, others want to go further and call for a constituent process. The final decision will depend on the relation of forces that make up the Spanish parliament.

Given the breadth of existing social problems, citizen unrest, and the discrediting of government institutions, the debate will be hard and intense. It will not be possible to avoid facing questions of great importance, among which are the following: the question of whether Spain should be a monarchy or a republic, the urgency of regenerating politics, the criteria for a new economic and social model, or how to articulate the amended Article 135 of the Constitution (which sets as an absolute priority the payment of Spanish public debt before any social need --for example, pensions).

If a pro-independence majority arises in Catalonia on 27-S, this result will affect the Spanish constitutional debate deeply, and will provoke great irritation and controversy. Needless to say, both the PP and Ciudadanos (and most of the PSOE and Podemos) will resist recognizing Catalan demands and translating them into accomplished goals for as long as possible. Resistance and threats will be the order of the day. Currently, there is a resurgence of Jacobinism in the parties, and a struggle to demonstrate who is the greater Spanish patriot, and this carries with it the reality that feelings and confrontation prevail over logic and reason. In spite of everything, in the end there will be an attempt to short-circuit the situation by offering Catalans a third way with some wiggle-room.

The Catalan representatives arising from the general elections at the end of the year will carry a huge responsibility before the Catalan voters. If a "Catalan bloc for independence" is formed and achieves a majority in Catalonia, they could influence the new Spanish constitutional text and force an agreement for a separation in the friendliest possible terms.

If the parties that don’t support independence obtain the majority, the wide disparity of their proposals and subservience of many them to their bosses in Madrid will cause them to maintain their view of a uniform Spain (minus a few rhetorical concessions), and Catalonia will continue to be just another Spanish region.

After 27-S Spain and Catalonia will enter into a critical period. The debate on the new constitution in the Spanish Parliament could overlap with the debate in Catalonia on the transition process towards independence. Both processes will be very complex, as there is an interplay of ideologies and political, economic, and power interests, as well as personal feelings and convenience.

To find a way out of the current morass, Spain needs a strong jolt. The elections on 27-S will express the will of Catalans regarding their relationship with Spain. The Spanish elections will offer Spanish society, with or without Catalonia, a historic opportunity to leave behind an unjust, demoralizing situation of impasses and impediments that has become unsustainable. Only if the new reality is accepted will it be possible to establish the foundations of a socially and economically advanced Spain, which will liberate its currently blocked potential and energy, turning Spain into a progressive, democratic state suited to the 21st century.