On the eve of the Supreme Court verdicts on the nine Catalan political prisoners and the three others on trial for the 2017 referendum process, a judicial event that forms an ignominious page in Spanish democracy which has not stood fast against the most conservative wing of the judiciary, the political sphere and the media, Spain's national day is being celebrated in Madrid: this Saturday, October 12th is known as the Dia de Hispanidad or "Day of Spanishness" in Spain, with several official acts ranging from a military parade to a reception by the king and queen at the Royal Palace. The justice system must have preferred this chronological order for these key events, because they've obviously had months to decide to do it differently and the result is that the Supreme Court's verdicts have been placed between the 12th October and the anniversary of the 1940 execution of Catalan president Lluís Companys at Montjüic, on 15th October. Catalan society, which has never considered the Dia de Hispanidad as a festival close to its way of being and thinking, feels even more removed from the celebration this year, at a time when there is enormous indignation, not only in the pro-independence ranks which is obvious, but in broad sectors of that space where the so-called constitutionalist parties usually vote.
The trial has been seen as a trampling of the rights of the accused, and almost 70% of Catalan society have told different surveys that the preventive prison was unjust, while 58% believe that the trial itself was unjust. This situation has produced an unease that is not only electorally very transversal, but has also, far from falling away, been steadily spiralling higher. Perhaps this is why this 12th October is an absolutely normal day in many cities of Catalonia, where the vast majority of shops won't close, but rather, will pull up their roller binds in the morning just as on any other Saturday. Shopping centres and supermarkets will do this, and family businesses too. It will almost certainly be the 12th October with the most shops open, whereas in previous years it was the establishments with a clear pro-independence profile that tended to work that day. It must be that they, too, as well as a good part of the public, have nothing to celebrate, since they could easily have pulled down the roller and closed because the Catalan government has 12th October listed as one of the eight official holidays, when businesses have the option to work or not.
In the time I spent in Paris I had an opportunity to see how the French celebrated Bastille Day on July 14th. Patriotic feeling there is very high because, among other things, the festival unites and does not divide. It has, in a way, become a very special day. Here, the 12th October has had a shrinking perimeter, since in addition to those who have never celebrated it, there are those who, for one reason or another, have gradually disconnected from it in recent years. It is no exaggeration to say that it is, above all, a Madrid holiday. And, perhaps, Spain today is Madrid and very little else. It is the day that they announce dates for the exhumation of the dictator Francisco Franco, and the eve of releasing the verdicts against the Catalan pro-independence leaders. Pedro Sánchez, taking refuge in the transfer of the mummy and the persecution of the independence movement. A political context of nostalgia which, at present, only seems to promise electoral benefit to the Popular Party and Vox.