With the maximum formality and distance possible, but with all the forcefulness of those who have occupied the highest positions in the Spanish government in recent years, Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias - and also the health minister, Salvador Illa - have declined to appear before the Parliament of Catalonia, as had been requested by the Catalan chamber's investigatory committee evaluating the Spanish government's management during the first wave of the pandemic. At that time, they had sole command in Catalonia and, consequently, were the ones most responsible for all health initiatives here.
Sánchez and Iglesias follow the path previously taken by Mariano Rajoy, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and María Dolores de Cospedal, when they were also cited by the Catalan Parliament, to the committee investigating Operation Catalonia and the role of the Spanish government in the persecution of the Catalan independence movement. The 'no' response was backed by a letter from Spain's Council of State, which states that the autonomous communities' parliaments "have no power to demand the appearance of the authorities, officials or agents, current or past, of the state". Based on this, Iglesias notes that in his condition as an authority of the state, "I must abide by what is established in the stated opinions."
Everyone knows that the report by the Council of State in 2017 was, above all, a way for the deep state to avoid having to give explanations about Operation Catalonia, by dodging the provisions of article 502 of the Penal Code: "Those who, after being advised legally and with correct notice, fail to appear before an investigative committee of the Spanish parliament or a legislative assembly of an Autonomous Community shall be punished as guilty of crimes of disobedience. If they are also in position of authority or civil servant, they shall also be subject to the penalty of suspension of their power or public office for a period of six months to two years." That Sánchez and Iglesias accept this report does not provide an excuse for not explaining themselves and for treating the Parliament of Catalonia with a certain contempt. There is also the paradox that just as the parties of the Spanish right, the Popular Party and Ciudadanos, were in favour of these latest appearances, the left-wing Comuns did not register opposition to them when it was Rajoy, Soraya and Cospedal who were summonsed.
There is, moreover, another motive. Despite what the Council of State says, Sánchez and Iglesias could have appeared if they had wanted to. The opinion does not prevent them from attending but allows them to excuse their absence, which is very different. An autonomous parliament is not some café or bar. It is a legislative chamber that makes laws and aims at social justice and the well-being of citizens. It therefore deserves the greatest possible respect and consideration. The Spanish parties have not understood that the autonomous regions model that they defend so strongly - either based on the current system of communities, a federalist vision or even with a vision that approaches a confederal model - can only be credible if the other institutions of the state are the first to show they believe in it.
It is also this permanent contempt, in addition to all the well-known reasons, many of them linked to economic issues, language or national identity, which has shifted a very important part of Catalan society to clearly pro-independence positions. In short, there is permanent deafness.