In an extraordinary city hall meeting this Thursday, Barcelona's city council passed a proposal put forward by the pro-independence parties ERC and JxCat to withdraw the gold medal and other honorary titles and personal recognitions which had been awarded by the town hall over the years to Spain's king emeritus Juan Carlos I. The vote was dramatic: first, the left-wing BComú group abstained and with it, obviously, its leader on council, the mayor Ada Colau. Thus, votes in favour of the motion totalled only fifteen and not twenty-five; secondly, the votes against numbered fourteen, but they would have been sixteen if the two councillors of the Ciudadanos-breakaway group Barcelona pel Canvi, Manuel Valls and Eva Parera, had been present.
The juggling act carried out by BComú on a question on which the party is, at the outset, clearly in favour, but fudged its response due to the simple fact that the motion rebukes the Spanish government for having protected the former king in his flight - something that even Pedro Sánchez himself has acknowledged - shows that interests are in play. But the absence of Valls and Parera is certainly notable, since, had they been present, the council's resolution rejecting Juan Carlos I would not have prospered.
Because as well as talking the talk, as the saying goes, you have to walk the walk. Because while it is true that in Barcelona there is a large republican majority in favour of withdrawing the honours awarded to Juan Carlos I, those from when he was a prince and from his time as king, this majority should not be put in perill for partisan reasons. It is either there, or not there, and a pro-republican tweet sent afterwards cannot take the place of a vote in council. Did ERC and JxCat try to put Ada Colau into a difficult position? Probably. But politics is that too, and priorities should be clear.
According to a survey published by the ElNacional.cat last July, prepared by the Instituto Feedback, if a referendum on the Spanish monarchy was held, 69 per cent of Catalans would vote in favour of the proclamation of the republic and only 20% would opt for the continuity of the monarchy. A very broad majority that forces all its proponents to insist on the matter, not only when conditions are easy but, above all, when they are difficult.