The future of Catalonia: between Pujol and the referendum

In the coming years, the shocking confession of former president Jordi Pujol will definitely have still unimaginable political consequences in Catalonia. The tip of the iceberg that one can glimpse behind his confession will speed up the decline of the current political system, based on four axes: the funding of the main parties, the end of bipartisan politics, the privileges of the country's political elite and the notion of a representative democracy where elected officials exercise a personal power, rather than merely represent the people.

While the Pujol affair will likely become more serious with further confessions, if it turns out that behind the family's inheritance there is a plot devised for self-profit, there will be an unprecedented outrage in Catalonia. Therefore, it is Pujol himself who should seek to explain the affair in full in front of the Parliament's Committe of Institutional Affairs before September 2, as was agreed by the speakers of the political groups. If he refuses to do so or he attempts to seek protection from the parties that support the government, he will maintain the shadow of doubt about an alleged family plot that, presumably, has plundered Catalonia's coffers.

There are two key questions that Catalans ask as a result of the ex-president's confession. First: how can we end corruption? And, second, will this situation affect the referendum process in Catalonia?

How can we end corruption? Unfortunately, corruption is systemic in Catalonia and, therefore, it will be difficult to put an end to it without putting an end to the current system as well. Unfortunately, corruption isn't limited to politics. There is corruption in the royal family, in banks, business, sport, the judiciary, trade unions ... However, the worst thing about it is not corruption itself, but the impunity that surrounds it.

The Criminal Code should be changed to ensure that, for instance, Jordi Pujol's tax evasion case and others do not benefit from the Statute of Limitation. When elected officials are involved in a case of fraud, their crime is twice as serious. It is imperative for the law to be changed so that anyone guilty of fraud or embezzling public funds is forced to pay back the amount stolen, with interest. We also need anti-corruption legislation --like in other countries-- that allows for the impeachment of elected officials, so as to avoid pointless debates about what it means to have charges brought against someone. Beyond codes of good conduct or best practice and transparency laws, we need legislation that prevents corruption and shows zero tolerance for the corrupt when they are caught.

Will this situation affect the referendum process in Catalonia? Most definitely not. Before 12 September 2013 --when the date and the question of the referendum were agreed-- Catalans already knew that we were starting a dfficult process; a path that would be blocked by the PP government in Madrid. This lack of democracy can be seen in the PP's No to the referendum, but also in the law that denies abortion rights to women, the legislation that denies free justice and publich health care for all, or the denial of the plurilinguistic nature of Spain, as shown by backward laws such as the Lomce.

Having said that, we didn't expect an important figure in Catalan politics such as Jordi Pujol to help president Rajoy to hinder the Catalan process. Luckily, the social process in Catalonia has reached a point of no return and is above and beyond presidents Mas and Rajoy, as well as CiU and the PP. It is owned and driven by the Catalan people. We will only be able to exercise our right to self-determination provided we understand three things. First, the right to self-determination is priceless and, therefore, the budget cutbacks can't be an excuse to be able to vote. Second, we need a referendum with full democratic guarantees so that those who support any one of the three options (Yes-Yes, Yes-No and No-No) can vote freely, as only this will provide international recognition. And third, a nation is nothing without public services; therefore, we must oppose the sale of public assets, the privatisation of services and private monopolies in key sectors. Otherwise, it will be these private companies who will decide our future. So, these are the three necessary conditions to guarantee the democratic exercise of the right to decide.

To sum up, both the Pujol affair and Rajoy's inflexible stance on the referendum are two indications that show us that the regime is exhausted and will only be cast aside once the people can decide everything. Therefore, we must strive to achieve a Catalonia that is nationally free to decide its future, socially fair so that we can live together as equals in our difference and politically clean.