The entire French press has been wondering what Manuel Valls, former Socialist prime minister of France, is up to, demonstrating alongside the extreme right this Sunday in Madrid. The penny may, in the end, drop through the fact that Valls is opting for the mayoralty of Barcelona under the umbrella of Ciudadanos - the party which has a leader, Albert Rivera, who wanted to wear some of Emmanuel Macron's sheen, and has a populism that sees it taking its place between the extreme right of Pablo Casado (PP) and the extreme right of Santiago Abascal (Vox). The writer John Carlin says that the Spain is becoming seriously insane and he attributes it to "a profound inferiority complex and lack of identity" which is at large in the country.
Anyway, this complex is unlikely to be overcome by getting behind a protest banner that reads "For a united Spain, elections now!" Not by kicking Pedro Sánchez out of the prime minister's residence. Spain is politically, geographically and socially broken. Only the state's violence is preventing the reality of Spain from being seen. A force that is capable of causing even Sánchez to retreat, in his embryonic proposal for dialogue with Catalonia. In Spain the narrative is controlled by the right and therefore there is no room for any other narrator - that is, no rapporteur, as proposed for the Catalan talks. "They want us to return to a Spain in black and white," says Sánchez, forgetting that this Spain in black and white arrived through his own collaboration in the state's response to the referendum on 1st October and with the application of article 155. He who sows winds, reaps whirlwinds.
The right wants to take the streets and force a coup. Cripple Sánchez, muzzle the dialogue and recover the government of Spain as soon as possible. Let the public understand that the Sánchez executive is only an acting government until elections are held. And also send a message to the Supreme Court, which on Tuesday will begin the Catalan independence trial. The PP, Cs and Vox - the last of which leads its own private prosecution at the trial - are afraid of the Supreme Court being beguiled by the Spanish government's wails with regard to the punishment of the Catalan political prisoners. Hence, this Sunday's demonstration is in support of the hardline interpretation of judge Pablo Llarena in the case's investigative phase.
Sánchez has been left without any cards to play and is dependent on both the Spanish right and the Catalan pro-independence parties. The first want to kick him out, the second need him to stay where he is. The first know the game they are playing, with the second, it's not so clear. No one can call a timeout and the clock is ticking down. It is paradoxical that, while Europe has bought the story about there being a rapporteur and dialogue, the Spanish establishment has closed its door to this again. This is not a Spain in black and white, it is simply a Spain in black.