As the night came on, at the hour of the news programmes Telenotícies Vespre on Catalan public network TV3 and Telediario on Spanish state broadcaster TVE, the acting Spanish PM, Pedro Sánchez, came on screen maintaining an appearance of normality and control but more faltering than usual and overflowing with empty words. To sum up, he told us two things: that a crisis cabinet has been working at the Spanish government's Moncloa palace since last Thursday and it reinforced its coordination on Monday when the court verdicts were made public; and that he had addressed the situation in three interviews during the day with major party leaders Pablo Casado (PP), Albert Rivera (Cs) and Pablo Iglesias (Podemos).
And sitting in front of the television, one could only express one's surprise at the naturalness with which the acting head of the Spanish executive communicated that they had met to talk about Catalonia without Catalans. Or about Barcelona without barcelonins. It's not that he was without Catalan independence representatives, since he is free to choose whether he wants to receive them or not, although things went better for him while maintaining a path of dialogue. That's how he brought down Mariano Rajoy and enjoyed the moments of greatest political stability in his short and torturous period as prime minister which began in June 2018. Because, obviously, he would have to meet with the Catalan president, Quim Torra, given that, among other reasons, Torra is the state's highest ordinary representative in Catalonia. That's what it says in the Spanish Constitution and the Catalan Autonomy Statute which Sánchez refers to so much and yet only fulfills the parts that are in his interest. He could also meet with Ada Colau, as mayor of Barcelona. Or with the Madrid parliamentary groups of the Catalan parties ERC, JxCat and the Comuns. All this would be normal or, in any case, it would be more proper and successful than meeting exclusively with Casado, Rivera and Iglesias. There at the Moncloa palace, with the scenes we saw on television - greeting the visitors at the door, images in the office, etc - the baffled Pablo Casado ended up having a more prime ministerial look with his striking beard than the acting PM. If I were Sánchez, I would not present myself so phlegmatically. Nor would I sleep easily at night, not because Iglesias mentioned it with regard to the Socialists' refusal to a coalition with Podemos. But rather, because of Casado.
But Pedro Sánchez has decided he doesn't want to know what is happening in Catalonia. They say that, even in the PSC, the Catalan wing of the Socialists, there are sectors that are anxious about his attitude and fear the worst for the election night, 10th November. Rolling the dice when it's not necessary has its risks and, certainly, 10th November is one of those whims of Doctor Sánchez in his particular alchemy which makes any invention seems possible. By the way: where, now, are all those who were saying, for months and months, that the court sentences would act to "alleviate Catalan society" and would serve "as a lesson for a generation"? The Jordis, the true social leaders, have paid with nine year convictions - nine! - for their pacifist attitudes and attempts to reduce tension on that September 20th outside the Catalan economy ministry. We could go down the list of the political leaders in jail or in exile, and now, the leadership is much smaller, dispersed and has less authority. This is the reality, unfortunate and dramatic.
And, in this context, the current Catalan president will appear in Parliament this Thursday to talk about the sentences. Torra, silent for some time except to make very specific statements, will rise to the rostrum knowing he has been called into question by members of his own government. Whether this is an expectation or an obstacle will be seen in the next few hours, although those who know him say he will not make just any old speech. Perhaps, because he understands that during his tenure he will not have many opportunities for the solemnity of a day in parliament.