It's deeply ironic that it is none other than Catalan Socialist leader Miquel Iceta who has used the headline of a Spanish press interview with US political scientist Francis Fukuyama to blame the Catalan independence movement for the surge in support for the far-right Vox party, in polling for this Sunday's Spanish general election. The end-of-campaign rise for the right caused the Socialist government to leave behind its relaxed, expectative mood of a week ago, and switch into panic mode as the campaign drew to a close on Friday. The quoted interview, entitled "Catalan independence has caused the rise of Vox," is by David Alandete, currently Washington correspondent for the ABC newspaper and formerly deputy editor of El País. And indeed, while the journalist held this latter senior role, the data analysis expert M.C.McGrath denounced the role played by his newspaper in a hard-hitting report for the British Parliament's committee on disinformation and fake news, emphasizing that the information it published on the activities of Russian bots and their alleged support for Catalan independence in the weeks around the 2017 referendum were "atrocious errors" that seriously misrepresented the facts.
Vox has arrived, in any case, because Spanish nationalism has failed to maintain a democratic stance in the face of the demands of the Catalan independence movement. People may like or dislike these demands but that is what ballot boxes are for; that is the place where, under democracy, we resolve our differences. Can there be another, better place? I never read, heard or saw any statement from any leader of Britain's Conservative Party, or from the Labour Party, or from the Liberal Democrats suggesting that in 2014 the holding of an independence referendum in Scotland would lead to the growth of the extreme right. Nor is anyone making such an argument now that the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has proposed the holding of a new referendum before May 2021. It is true that there are issues related to Brexit mixed up in all this, but in the UK, politics is carried out in Parliament and not in the courts. And people do not turn a call for a referendum into a persecution of the leaders who have proposed it, and nothing remotely close to opening judicial proceedings for their imprisonment, as Spain did with the Catalan pro-independence leaders.
Some of us commented, back when far-right violence was being given the stamp of approval and the "Go get 'em" chants were encouraged from people in official positions, that such an undemocratic attitude would have consequences. The institutional violence and repression brought people out of the closet who had been waiting for such a moment. Spain's deep state made a grave error. What is completely indefensible now is to try and pass responsibilities on to others when bogeys have been raised.