Spain's deputy prime minister, Pablo Iglesias, is now rightly complaining that there are hidden powers that are trying to control the power of the state, after the National Audience asked for a case to be opened against him in the Supreme Court for four offences that could result in sentences of years in prison. Iglesias is no longer watching the bulls from behind the barrier, but rather, has realised that they are heading straight to get him and Podemos has broken into a cold sweat, as it is no longer in control of the narrative and the power the party enjoys provides little shelter from the storm that is breaking.
Not until party members have felt directly attacked have they come out of the comfort zone they've inhabited for years, during which the Catalan independence movement has suffered persecution alone and been targeted by a general case from a number of courts. The unsympathetic "what a disaster, how terrible everything is!" must not be matched by the same response today from the pro-independence sphere, which must put its parliamentary representatives at the service of a profound judicial change before it is too late. Because the situation is becoming increasingly untenable and it is difficult not to see a challenge by the judiciary to the political wing of the state, with the king having unmistakably aligned himself. On Wednesday it was Iglesias, and on Thursday, prime minister Sánchez directly, as the Madrid high court annulled the perimeter closure of the Spanish capital imposed by the ministry of health to curb coronavirus infections.
The battle against Catalan independence placed the justice system at the spearhead to avoid addressing the situation through politics; some have wanted to read into this situation, which should never have arisen, proof that they were or could remain exempt from the rules. And thus we have seen one barbarity after another, to the applause of the hard right-wing in the media and politics, the complicit silence of the Socialists and a minuscule gesture of solidarity from the new left that was quickly gathered in by the tentacles of the regime of '78. There is a Madrid that does not distinguish between "separatists and reds" when it comes to purges, and now, it has begun a wholesale clean-out and, however it turns out, the Supreme Court, its criminal chamber - that is, judge Marchena - now has the command of the political agenda for the coming months. The government of the judges. It is no longer about the 1st October, it is no longer president Torra; it is, perhaps, about the fall of the Pedro Sánchez government. Because this is what we are talking about, not a one-off disagreement between the Spanish government and the senior judiciary.
One has to go back to the 2010 Constitutional Court sentence on the Catalan Statute of Autonomy to locate the origin of the time when justice, in its most complete sense, gained a power that was neither logical, nor anticipated by those who constituted it. That court destroyed a Statute that had been passed by the Spanish parliament, ratified in a referendum by the people of Catalonia and signed by the king - and there was no problem. Well, there was a problem: since 2010 a Catalan Statute has been in force that no one has voted for, only the Constitutional judges of that time. On the coat-tails of that ambush, the National Audience, the Supreme Court and some courts in Barcelona entered the game. Only the protective shield of victories in Europe has shown that Spanish and European justice are different and that, out there, you can win arguments that are unthinkable in Madrid. But it is a slow path, not always easy and full of obstacles.
Today there must be many more who think that the government of the judges has arrived, after Iglesias made a statement treating himself as the first one to be condemned for his ideas. The deputy PM should be a little more modest after all that has happened in Catalonia with 2,850 people suffering reprisals, the penitentiaries full of political prisoners and a significant number of exiles. The fact that today Felipe VI and Pedro Sánchez are walking around Barcelona without a Catalan president because he has been disqualified from office and the last three presidents of Catalonia, Artur Mas, Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra, have to go to Perpinyà to do the same thing is proof that something is not just "not quite right", but very, very wrong.