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EDITORIAL

A lugubrious end

Mas’s stubborn insistence on holding on to power against all odds can only lead to ridicule

The refusal of radical anti-capitalist party Candidatura de Unidad Popular (CUP) to support Artur Mas’s reinstatement as premier of the Catalan government has an immediate effect: it entails calling new early elections. It will be the fourth election in the region in five years, which in itself symbolizes the reiterated failure by the leader of Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) to achieve his political goals, other than the bare minimum of personal survival.

In reality, the rejection announced by the leadership of the anti-establishment CUP – following a rather baroque assembly vote that yielded a tie – only added a layer of cruel criticism to the final catastrophe that has befallen everything that the nationalist leader stood for. Nothing more.

The vote probably did serve as an informal referendum on self-rule as the separatists claimed, except that the result went against secession

Described in narrative terms devoid of any epic rhetoric, the fall of Jordi Pujol’s political heir has three main angles. The first and most obvious regards the personal aspects: Mas’s stubborn insistence on holding on to power against all social, political and arithmetical odds could only lead to ridicule, something that Catalan politics had traditionally never exposed itself to, especially after the lessons learned from [historical leader] Josep Tarradellas.

A more interesting angle is the electoral one. Three months after Catalonia held a regional vote on September 27, it has proven impossible to invest a separatist premier, underscoring that the vote probably did serve as an informal referendum on self-rule as the separatists claimed, except that the result went against secession from Spain.

Those who quickly sang out “hem guanyat” – “We won,” in Catalan – must now explain how and why not only did they win nothing, but actually lost everything. The real result of the September 27 election came in yesterday: secessionism not only failed to attract a social majority in Catalonia at the polls, but what’s more, separatists cannot even use their slight parliamentary majority to place one of their own in power.

Even more definitive is the collateral damage inflicted on the alliance of interests brought together under the umbrella of Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes). Its leaders went hoarse reiterating that Mas was indispensable, that there was no alternative candidate, that he was their sole, experienced and messianic leader.

And now it turns out that this alleged leader is biting the dust of his umpteenth defeat after self-inflicting several Waterloos without asking permission: the division of Catalonia, the breakup of his long-standing federation with Democratic Union of Catalonia as CiU, and the implosion of his own CDC. If Mas was that indispensable, it means that nobody in Junts pel Sí can replace him. So it’s better to go with a more radical option than with such a dishonest one. Let this electoral alliance die with him.

It is a lot more practical to end an agony than to prolong it. And the Catalans tend to be practical people

Pujol’s successor cannot blame anyone for his defeat. He alone, rowing against the tide and against the advice of his most loyal aides, has crashed after attempting to secure support for his reinstatement from an anti-capitalist, anti-European, anti-Western group that represents everything that Mas the candidate most despised.

This group has withheld support, pushing Mas to the most humiliating of frustrations. Perhaps he may yet attempt to make a new comeback; if so, even his own colleagues and devoted followers will destroy him to ensure their own survival. It stands to reason.

The gloomy end that Mas has come to, and which could still be adorned with even more pathetic details, does not constitute a dark period in Catalan history. It is a lot more practical to end an agony than to prolong it. And the Catalans tend to be practical people.

English version by Susana Urra.