Both the Catalan nationalists, and their Spanish nationalist opponents, lack a broad strategic vision
The campaign for Thursday’s elections in Catalonia has been depressingly symptomatic of two dangerous and interlinked contemporary tendencies in western democracies.
One is the prevalence of tactics over strategy, and the other is the preference for slogans over substance. Twitter is the ideal, and toxic, medium for this debased political culture.
Calling snap elections in the region was an uncharacteristically clever tactical move by the lugubrious Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. For years, his only response to the accelerating momentum of the Catalan independence movement had been obtuse immobility. He had hidden from the challenge of engaging with change behind the 1978 constitution, which had been forged under intense pressure from the heirs of the Franco dictatorship.
This was a disastrous strategic failure, but it was tactically beneficial to his conservative Partido Popular (PP) in the rest of the country. It played on a barely dormant nostalgia for authoritarian Spanish nationalism, and diverted attention from the corruption scandals in which the ruling party is mired.
This article appeared in The Irish Times on 21 December, 2017. Read the whole piece here
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