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Josep Maria Vallès defends “negotiation, not imposition” in the last session of Debats UB

Josep Maria Vallès during his conference.

Josep Maria Vallès during his conference.





In the last session of the cycle #Debats UB: Catalunya i Espanya, Josep Maria Vallès defended “negotiation instead of imposition”, regarding the relation between Catalonia and Spain. “The path of democratic politics does not go with positioning over all or nothing; it’s about transaction, civility, commitment”, highlighted the emeritus professor of Political and Administrative Science of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and former minister of Justice.


Vallès also explained there is a need for a Catalonia-Spain bilateral path (although there are moments of multi-laterality) and a gradualist perspective: “this journey has to go through stages, with mid-term approaches, reviewable and open formats”. He continued saying a “referendum” will be necessary at some time. Last, he said we need “an internal Catalan agreement, as broad as possible”. He defended we need to bear in mind “the potential allies in the rest of Spain” and that “the help that comes from outside will be neither definite, nor big”, but it is not worthless.

Vallès predicts a “long meanwhile” as he called it, and said that during this time “we should not make the situation worse: we should understand the reasons and positioning of those who do not agree with one, and not remaining in the circle of those who think the same, as well as making an effort to control the language against disqualification, direct insults, disdain, ironic and offensive jokes”. He concluded that contributing to an exit that leads to an improvement of justice and freedom conditions “is on the hands of politicians, but also in ours as citizens”.

After the conference, Maite Gutiérrez, journalist from La Vanguardia, gave way to the debate, which counted on the participation of the lecturers Sonia Andolz and Josep Maria Reniu, from the University of Barcelona; Lluís Orriols, from Carlos III University of Madrid, and Astrid Barrio, from the University of Valencia.

Astrid Barrio gave a view of the Catalan politics in which the political leaders are the main promoters of what has happened in Catalonia over the last years, opposed to the idea of the sovereign process mainly as a demand of society. Barrio highlighted there is “an argument to control the sovereign spot, and while this goes on, it will be difficult to solve the conflict”.

Sonia Andolz noted that, first, people should accept there is a conflict, and dedicated her words to explain some useful tools to solve conflicts: defining the objectives and interests of each side to find areas for a potential agreement, and reaching “lasting solutions”. She highlighted the importance of the different “narratives” and defended some measures such as politicians accepting people in their teams “to help changing the view”.

Lluís Orriols talked about public opinion, which changes fast and is sensitive to the contest and decisions of political elites. “The independence movement is winning this battle in Catalonia”, he said. He noted that in political arguments the one who decides is the “in-the-middle” voter, and regarding this case in particular, the importance “of the federalist voter”, deciding majorities.

Reniu remembered the lecturers of the UB “that are under legal processes within this conflict”, and said politics, as a tool, have two positions, and applied it to the Catalan conflict: “one position links politics to the agreements; the other links politics to confrontation, repression and simplification of reasons”. “The appeal to legal justice has moved away any chance of dialogue”, he noted.

This session, opened by the vice-rector for Equal Opportunities and Social Action, Maite Vilalta, closes a series of several conferences given by: Jordi Casassas, professor of History at the UB; Antoni Castells, professor of Economics at the UB and former minister of Economy and Finance at Generalitat; Antoni Bayona, lecturer of Administrative Law at the UPF and former attorney of the Catalan Parliament; Carme Junyent, lecturer at the Department of Catalan Philology and General Linguistics of the UB, and Joan Mateo, lecturer from the Department of Methods of Research and Diagnosis in Education of the UB. Each session consisted on a conference by a distinguished academician, followed by a roundtable on the previous topic. Debates and participation will be published in different volumes of a new collection by Editions and Publications of the UB: Debats UB.

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