On 15 October 2012, David Cameron and Alex Salmond signed the agreement that would enable a referendum on Scotland’s independence to be held two years later. This was the most transcendental decision on the future of Scotland since 1707’s Act of Union (which ensured Scotland and England would remain united from then on), and the result of a long process of dialogue and negotiation with the Government of the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister Cameron accepted to transfer the legal competencies of the referendum to the Scottish executive, given that, by virtue of a 1998 law, any constitutional change was Westminster’s direct competency. In September 2014, the Scottish people finally decided, by a narrow margin, to remain in the United Kingdom, but a lesson on democracy had already been given by both governments two years before that.
Meanwhile, the Spanish State has opted for a radically different way to face the Catalan conflict. Mariano Rajoy initiated a path that Pedro Sánchez decided to follow without the slightest qualm. To condemn nine Catalan political leaders and social activists to 100 years in prison because they promoted a referendum is a democratic loss for the Spanish State, the consequences of which are yet difficult to be estimated.
Sánchez is mainly responsible for this failure, as he is as well for a major deception towards those who trusted in a new chance for dialogue when he was sworn into office as Prime Minister. Let us not forget that he would have never become Prime Minister without the support of the Catalan pro-independence parties. On an international level, Sánchez was seen as a certain kind of hope. Many thought that he would be able to manage the Catalan situation as advanced democracies would do. However, Catalonia is the only part still sitting at the dialogue table.
Over the last few months, the Spanish Prime Minister has stubbornly shown his incompetence, unable to negotiate even with his potential allies from Podemos, and dragging the Spanish State to repeat the elections. Now, he is flirting with Ciudadanos and the PP to establish a future government, those same parties that accused him of being a traitor to Spain when he suggested starting a dialogue with Catalonia. Is Sánchez the leader that will lead a political negotiation process with Catalonia?
Pedro Sánchez is part of the problem, as he has never had the power or the will to unblock this conflict. In fact, through his minister Josep Borrell, Sánchez admitted recently that his main goal was confronting Catalonia’s independence and decided to work for only the 20% of the Catalan population that is against a self-determination referendum. If he had learnt something from the United Kingdom and Scotland’s process, Sánchez would have understood that the only way out possible in Catalonia is voting. Let the ballots give a lesson on democracy.