Here is a quick translation of an article, "Aténgase el que atente" written by the 13th Marquise of Casa Fuerte, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo y Peralta-Ramos (born Madrid, 15/10/1974), published in the Madrid daily "El Mundo" on February 6th. She holds Spanish, French and Argentinian citizenship but is best known as being a Trustee of FAES, the Partido Popular's foundation and think tank, and an MP for that party from 2008 to 2015. In her Wikipedia entry, she explains that In 2014 she was one of its first signatories of the "Constitutionalist" manifesto "Free and Equal" that rejected any kind of negotiation with the Catalan parties that aspire (with an overall majority in parliament, may I add) to independence.
Is this idle speculation, nostalgia for a bygone age? Or a shrewd way for a hardliner to bare the Spanish Establishment's teeth, ahead of a headlong offensive against Catalonia's democratically chosen leaders?
If they jeopardise [the State] they'll have to face the consequences
On October 10, 1934, Josep Pla summarized for La Veu de Catalunya the failed attempt by Companys to set up a Catalan State: "We have experienced, in these last few days, the most extensive and deepest subversive movement, perhaps, in our contemporary history. ..]. The men of Esquerra, who governed in the Generalitat [Government] de Catalunya, despite the magnificent privileged position they enjoyed within the regime, a privilege that had never been known to any Catalan political party, believed that they had to play their lot against the policies of the most destructive, most unpopular, and most hated men in general politics. They were wrong, and have paid dearly. Above all, they have jeopardised what should have been sacred for all Catalans in good faith: the policy of Autonomy, the Statute of Catalonia. It is not for us to issue a historical judgment on this vanishing oligarchy. We will say only that Catalonia continues with its tragic history, and that only by eliminating the political frivolity that we have experienced lately will it be possible to correct the path taken".
Historians are excited by tragic parallels. They are the hallmark of the importance of their trade: only memory prevents repetition. Read the debate between Azana and Ortega on the 1932 Catalan Statute [of Autonomy]. Zapatero and Rajoy, déjà vu. And now these words of Pla, that illuminate his present and ours. Then it was Esquerra, today it is Convergència. A frivolous and dying oligarchy has embezzled its position of privilege, has played into the hands of a destructive party, and is responsible for Catalonia perhaps losing its autonomy.
Artur Mas will defend himself today against the attack. He will say that the Spanish Government did not move a finger to prevent what Rajoy and the Minister of Justice called "a mock poll without legal consequences" and that, therefore, the later action of the Prosecutor's Office was politically motivated. It is true. The Government only reacted when it verified the failure of the appeasement. When it received the reproach of stranded citizens. Rajoy has always believed that his own passivity ensures that of others. He has never understood that nationalism is a moving delirium. He has never relied on the political and pedagogical force of the state. There follows Soraya, like the widow Juana, parading the dead dialogue around the towns of Spain. But reality prevails. The conflict between separatism and democracy has entered its final phase. The sprint towards the wall has started.
On Friday, asked about his plans in the face of the secessionist challenge, Rajoy replied: "I will not speak before the event or sayl what we will and will not do." The seditious side feast themselves on all kinds of fantasies about the dawn of independence. But as soon as the law is allowed the slightest realistic story, uproar is unleashed. Let's ignore the shouting. Let us assume that chance can lead to unexpected and (of course) unforeseeable events. And for a moment imagine that the Government applies article 155 of the Constitution.
Artur Mas is barred from public office for the 9 November poll and president Puigdemont calls a referendum on the independence of Catalonia for the end of May. It is supported by Oriol Junqueras, the CUP and Ada Colau, and the ANC calls for mobilization under the motto Love democracy. The Government challenges the call before the CC (Constitutional court), but also takes its executive responsibility and invokes article 155 of the Constitution. It sends an order to Puigdemont giving him five days to abide by legality. Puigdemont emerges as a victim and steps on the accelerator.
The Government reacts. It listens, once and for all to lawyer Tomás-Ramón Fernández, and the Bank of Spain sends a circular to all banking institutions: they will not be able to pay a single euro from the to the accounts of the Generalitat without the approval of a state auditor. The salaries of doctors are paid. The purchase of polls, no. After five days, the Government appears urgently before the Senate. It presents a list of measures to restore democracy in Catalonia. They are proportional to the severity of the challenge and will be updated as events unfold. The Senate approves the application of article 155 by an absolute majority. The intelligence of Javier Fernandez ensures the firmness of the PSOE.
That same afternoon, the Government suspends Puigdemont's executive powers. The Spanish Government's delegate in Catalonia becomes the new political authority of the community. He repeals the call for referendum and cancels the agreements for its holding. Junqueras and four reghional ministers rebel and are replaced by civil servsants who know the difference between defending ideas and attacking legality. The new regional minister of Economy puts an end to the spurious use of taxpayers' money. Democracy no longer funds its own destruction. The new Education Minister sends precise instructions to all school principals. The seals will not be needed [to close polling stations].
The insurrection moves to the Catalan Parliament. Forcadell calls for insubmission. The Government replaces her as Speaker of the Chamber and urges the Bureau and MPs to abide by the law. The separatist majority sticks to its guns and accelerates the passage of the laws of disconnection. The Government suspends the Catalan Parliament's legislative powers. Colau takes the baton, and tThe Government applies Article 61 of the Law of Local Government: it dissolves the Barcelona City Council and appoints a caretaker.
The Catalan public media boil in outrage against the State. It is no longer a clown that burns the Constitution before the cameras, but television news bulletins that stir up the uprising. The Government suspends the board members of the Catalan Audiovisual Media Corporation and replaces the directors of TV3 and Catalunya Radio. Listeners will no longer be asked if they are willing to red to "physically prevent" the courts' actions.
Hooded men provoke public disturbances in the centre of Barcelona. They break windows, burn buses and assault law-abiding civil servants. The boss of the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan police force) hesitates. Some officers conspire. The Government places the body under the orders of the Ministry of the Interior. Riots increase. The Government, with the support of Congress, applies article 116 of the Constitution and declares the state of emergency in Barcelona. Violent people are arrested and placed at the disposal of the courts. Twenty-four hours later, calm returns. Demonstrators dissolve. Tourists are grateful and the bourgeoisie starts a process of introspection. Catalanism has to be rebuilt. Political frivolity needs to be abandoned and the path taken needs to be corrected.
The Government is right: "It is never too late to take drastic measures". But it would have been better to learn from History. And, above all, to understand much sooner that enforcing the law always legitimizes the State.