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What strength does the Catalan government have to negotiate anything? If we have given two years to the Spanish state, what will we get out of the dialogue table? These were some of the questions posed by former Catalan president Quim Torra on the effectiveness of dialogue with the government of Pedro Sánchez. In his view, the position of the Catalan side is not strong enough. His proposal? "A collective leap forward". According to him, the key is in massive mobilization. "Only by proclaiming the republic and defending it on the streets will we find a way out of this," he insisted.

The former leader of the Generalitat government gave this view during his speech at the event Institutions and Catalonia, in this year's edition of the Catalan Summer University in the Northern Catalonia town of Prada de Conflent. The speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Laura Borràs, also took part.

Failed to “take advantage” of 1st October

Torra said he regretted not having taken advantage of the result of the referendum on 1st October, 2017, a date of maximum "popular empowerment": "If we had proclaimed independence on 3rd October, we would be in a very different situation now," asserted the president.

Moreover, he made an historical comparison between this date and the proclamation of the Catalan Republic which took place on April 14th, 1931: "The difference between April 14th and October 1st is that on the second, we all agreed to go ahead", he pointed out.

"It is a tendency of some Catalans to think that the Catalan solution will be linked to the Spanish one. History shows that this will never happen," he reflected.

"A moment of confusion"

In a speech full of skepticism towards the political moves led by the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) on how to culminate the independence process, Torra said that Catalonia is in "a moment of confusion, and one of the elements that causes that is precisely the dialogue table".

The approach he believes should be presented to the Spanish government is clear: "Either we negotiate the referendum, or we proclaim independence. That should be the basis of the dialogue table," a forum that, he says, should not even be held.


"Catalonia is in no position to sit at the table"

"Catalonia is not in a position to sit at a dialogue table if it does not even know its methodology. Right now, the independence movement cannot permit itself to do this. Normalizing this situation normalizes a state of dependence on the Spanish state," he continued. However, he considers that, even though "we are strong at the polls" at present, "we are in a moment of greater weakness than ever".


Quim Torra UCE

Quim Torra, Catalan president from 2018-20, with the current speaker of parliament, Laura Borràs, during his speech at the UCE 2021 / UCE

Against the autonomous communities 

As well, Torra firmly rejected Spain's system of autonomous communities since it is "a structure that hinders the step we must take as a nation to achieve independence."

“It’s a bureaucratic monster with hundreds of officials and a web of judges and laws,” he affirmed. "Right now, along with fear and repression, this system is one of the difficulties in achieving self-determination."

Discards dialogue

His position on the possible negotiation with the Sánchez government is thoroughly pessimistic. According to him, "there is no other possible way out with the Spanish state", a statement he justified by recalling the first meeting of the dialogue table, which he himself sat at in early 2020: "The so-called "most progressive government in history" made it clear that it will never negotiate the right to self-determination of Catalonia".


Main image: Former Catalan president Quim Torra at the event 'Institutions and Catalonia', in this year’s edition of the Catalan Summer University / UCE