Declaration of sovereignty - “Man cannot be, if not free”

This Wednesday, the Catalan Parliament is to approve a Declaration of Sovereignty that should build the foundations for the Catalan people's will to decide their own future without limitations. There is universal agreement among the real democracies throughout the world, by which a basic principle is the fact that democracy per se has no limit in its approach, as long as it is approved by a majority. It is debatable, depending on the subject, whether the majority is to be simple or qualified. But the Catalan Parliament intends to approve a declaration of intent, significant, but no further than that. It does certainly propound the greatest essence of democracy, the collective decision to exert the collective will to live as the people wish to.

As the Catalan poet Salvador Espriu said: “Man cannot be, if not free”. Are any further words necessary to understand this essence of Humanity? Well, this Wednesday in the Parliament of Catalonia we will see that there are still men and women who don't understand this and others who will deny it.

On one hand, there is the party in Government, CiU (pro-sovereignty Center-Right party), plus the leading party in opposition, ERC (pro-independence Social-Democrats). Together, they add up to more than a simple majority of 71 out of 135 representatives. Luckily, we can also add ICV (Eco-Socialists) and CUP (pro-independence Extreme Left). ICV is in favour of a confederate model, but has never denied the idea of “Man cannot be, if not free”. That is why they will definitely vote for the right to decide for any sovereignty model. In the end, we are talking about 84 representatives. I.e. almost two out of every three representatives will choose to call the Catalan people to freely decide their mid-term future, probably before 2014.

On the other hand there is a very explicit block formed by the PP (the Spanish Government party) and C's (unionist party opposing the Catalan pro-independence process). They both deny Catalonia as a nation, also denying any recognition to the right to decide on anything without the explicit approval of Spain. It's important to know that Catalonia had the first proto-Parliament in Europe –the 9th Century Peace and Truce Assemblies– and started to celebrate their own Catalan Courts in the 13th century, before the concept of “Spain” arose. In fact, Spain as we know it was constitutionally established in 1812, almost a hundred years after the annihilation of Catalonia as a sovereign state by Phillip V of Castile.

But there is a third block in dispute, formed by the PSC (Spanish Social-Democrat). They don't deny the need to ask the Catalan people, but oddly enough deny the sovereign capacity to do so. I.e. they would approve a sovereignty declaration without recognising the capacity of the Catalan people to be sovereign. In fact, the PSC only recognises the sovereign capacity to the entity that upholds, either upfront or indirectly, that Catalonia has no right in this matter: Spain. Certainly, this is a political positioning that can be only understood by experts in Kafka.

It might be a good idea for those who still hesitate to read these two quotes from two Presidents of the USA, a nation which, by the way, decided to define itself as a people and rid itself of the British metropolis on the 4th of July, 1776 without discussing whether they were a sovereign subject or not. “The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history. It is human history”, said Franklin Delano Roosevelt. To conclude, another one from Theodor Roosevelt: “A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be a great democracy”. That's right, the Catalan Parliament will decide to progress so as not to cease being a great democracy.
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David de Montserrat
Journalist and Writer

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