For the former Spanish health minister and PSC candidate in the Catalan elections, Salvador Illa, to refuse a Covid-19 antigen test before the electoral debate on TV3, as the works committee requested from all the candidates, is a decision of far greater significance than his own campaign team could have suspected. First, because the other eight candidates took the test without any problems and were unaware that one of the participants had refused. But second, the most important aspect: why did he not want to do it? And on this detail, the former minister has not provided a clear explanation. On the contrary, he has tended to add confusion in his statements about the health protocol, and how tests in these cases are not envisaged, as he has no symptoms and nor has had contact with any known cases. Nothing different from the other eight candidates who nevertheless underwent the coronavirus test without further problems. The elusiveness of Illa's response has raised a reasonable doubt - that the campaign, naturally, has amplified - of whether there are hidden motives. And even that he might already have been vaccinated.
Illa needs to clarify this and it is reasonable to require him to do so in order to move on from a question that can be answered quickly with a yes or a no. Above all, because silence only adds fuel to the fire of doubt, and maybe it's just a case of slow reflexes from his campaign team. At a time when there have been vaccinations of politicians, military leaders and priests, who were not supposed to have priority but used their influence to jump the queue, Illa owes Catalan public opinion an answer that is very simple to give.
As the Spanish royal house also owes an explanation, for its decision to send the heiress to the throne to complete her secondary education at a boarding school in Wales. The announcement was so startling that a news ticker on the Spanish public TV network read: "Leonor is leaving Spain, like her grandfather [Juan Carlos I]". The administrator of the media organization, Rosa María Mateo, apologized, but the truth is that what the journalist put into a nutshell was something obvious. It is not uncommon for the Spanish monarchy to shoot itself in the foot one day and do so again the next. It was neither the time nor the place for this decision. That it's a difficult period, is something obvious. With the grandfather fleeing Spain due to alleged corruption, the less news like this the better. Times have changed, and they should at least have had the sensitivity to wait for a while to see if the current economic crisis shows any improvement. Secondly, there is the UK's departure from the European Union via Brexit, and thus the Spanish monarchy is cast in a bad light in terms of its European loyalty. But a further factor is that in Wales, the vote to leave the EU achieved widespread majorities, something that did not happen in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
The third actor in the campaign is the Spanish public prosecutors' office. Not because of what it has done but because of its cautious attitude, avoiding any interference in the campaign with regard to the jail regime of the Catalan political prisoners who were granted Level 3 open prison rights on January 29th. The office is doing the right thing, yes, but it’s so unusual that it ends up being news. Perhaps someone has recommended they take care until February 15th, so that a sudden move does not end up acting like a boomerang in the state operation to defeat the pro-independence parties and avoid another Junts-ERC government. Nothing happens by chance, but another thing is if it might happen by mistake, although on issues like this, the PSOE is not as clumsy as the PP. "Let the effect be noticed without the care being noticed", as 18th century Spanish monarch Felipe V put it.