Read in Catalan

The presidency commission of Barcelona city council has this Wednesday rejected a proposal to revoke the cession of Albéniz mansion to the Spanish royal family with the votes of the monarchist parties (PSC, Cs and PP) and the timely abstention of Barcelona en Comú, the party led by the mayor, Ada Colau. As a result, the Spanish royal family will be able to continue using it. In other words, as it has been doing, with the sole interruptions of the republic and the Francoist dictatorship, since 1929 when, after its inauguration, the city ceded it to king Alfonso XIII. It was the moment to revert this situation if the political parties who declare themselves to be republican and are in the majority in the council had taken a step forward. But that didn't happen. And Junts per Catalunya, who presented the initiative, and Esquerra Republicana were left alone.

It's obvious that En Comú's traditional ambiguity, not leaning in one direction or the other on thorny questions, is at the heart of their decision. Also, the fact it shares the government with PSC and that it reached the mayoralty in June thanks to Manuel Valls, who was on Ciudadanos's candidates' list through an electoral coalition. The representative of En Comú justified their abstention in that they saw a maximalist spirit in the proposition but declared that they agreed with the basis of the question. Certainly it's maximalist, since there's no intermediate position: either the royal family is authorised to use it or they aren't. There doesn't appear to be a middle path by which they could use it only on odd days or months, when it's sunny or when pollution levels aren't very high. In politics, sometimes you have to stick your neck out.

What has limited value is to declare yourself in the Parliament to be in favour of abolishing the monarchy, as they did alongside Junts per Catalunya and Esquerra Republicana a year ago. In practice, it was just playing to the gallery, since the Catalan chamber lacks the power to take such a decision, and what was approved ended up being just a political position; on the other hand, where their votes are decisive for a critical agreement, they choose to look the other way.

The convulsive politics of Catalonia has too many vertiginous moments when strategy and principles don't line up. It's not exclusively a question of En Comú, as can be easily seen day-to-day. But nobody finds themselves as uncomfortable when discussing topics related to self-determination, the independence of Catalonia or the monarchy as them, having more than one electoral front and 90% of their voters being in favour of a republic as a form of government over the monarchy. The times to come will need, likely, less ambivalent positions if the Catalan conflict remains latent.