martes, 27 de febrero de 2018

CATALONIA --- A king humiliated by a worthy nation | VilaWeb

A king humiliated by a worthy nation | VilaWeb





A king humiliated by a worthy nation

«Above all, a monarchy is a spectacle. But yesterday King Felipe was unable to show that off at all. Quite the opposite»



Above all, a monarchy is a spectacle. Its role —as with any other
role within the public sphere— relies on appearances. That is why all
monarchies always surround themselves with the sort of pomp that aims to
elevate the monarch above the general public. Unless the monarch is
seen by their subjects as different and superior, people begin to wonder
what purpose he serves. And when people begin to ask themselves why
they need a king, a monarchy is doomed. Nowadays there are only
seventeen monarchies in the world, eighteen if you include the Catholic
Pope, the only elected king in the world. At present the extinction of
the monarchical institution only seems a matter of time. More so when
the king is a controversial figure.

Yesterday King Felipe got the response he deserved from the Catalan
public and the nation’s institutions. He had to enter Barcelona’s Palau
de la Música [the chosen venue for the MWC gala dinner] without any pomp
and almost incognito, with riot police occupying Via Laieta and
struggling to contain the city’s noisy protest. In nearby roads,
thousands of citizens endured blows and violence from the Catalan
police, as well as provocations from royalists, all to ensure that the
Spanish king would fully grasp the animosity that he elicits in
Catalonia. Local authorities were absent from the gala dinner and most
skipped the official reception, which humiliated him in front of the
Mobil World Congress’ businesspeople and entrepreneurs. The Speaker of
the House, the Mayor of Barcelona and the representatives of the Catalan
government all declined the invitation to attend the event. The king
had much to explain, particularly when the noisy protests and republican
anthems were clearly audible from inside the Palau de la Música, a
musical institution whose choir had voiced their discontent over the
king’s presence and had publicly asked that he be denied access to the
venue. At 9 pm hundreds of thousands of MWC participants across
Barcelona heard the deafening banging of pots and pans. Earlier that
day, they had been greeted at Barcelona airport by activists wearing
yellow ribbons and holding banners [to raise awareness of the political
situation in Catalonia].

All in all, the Bourbon king received the response that he deserved
from Catalonia, a worthy nation that has proven to him that it will
neither surrender nor bend the knee, a nation that remembers the king’s
sickening call to violence on TV on October 3. That speech might
actually cost him the crown which he inherited from his father, the
successor chosen by General Franco.

Above all, a monarchy is a spectacle. But yesterday King Felipe was
unable to show that off at all. Quite the opposite. In the street
outside, it became apparent that now he can only visit Catalonia when
protected by a massive display of violence. Once inside the Palau de la
Música, he busied himself trying to conceal his irritation and
displeasure by the noise coming from outside rather than trying to
present himself to the world as the modern, democratic monarch that he
pretends to be. Sitting opposite him, Speaker Roger Torrent wore a
yellow ribbon on his lapel and didn’t even bother to applaud the king’s
speech out of courtesy. Politically speaking, the king of Spain and the
Spanish government were defeated and humiliated in a context that must
be understood. When the Spanish authorities staged a coup against
Catalonia on September 20 and imposed direct rule on October 28, few
people thought that Catalans would hold their ground and counterattack
to this extent.

Yesterday it became apparent that the republican movement is on the
rise and has overcome the bewilderment that overwhelmed it after the
Catalan government surrendered the administration when direct rule was
imposed. Furthermore, it is equally obvious that Spain has a colossal
problem. The last time that King Felipe had the courage to visit
Catalonia was to take part in the march following the jihadist attacks
in August. During the demonstration, he had to hear some comments that
he was not used to hearing. Once again, yesterday he received a welcome
that no monarch, including him, would ever wish to have. Not even the
provocation staged by a tiny group of royalist saved the day. The
scared, regional Catalonia which they were hoping to bring back through
the use of force, violence, prison and exile has failed to replace the
republican Catalonia and is nowhere to be seen. The coming weeks will
see a new government in Catalonia, the institutional integration between
the regional government and the republic’s, plus a demonstration on
March 11. Things will likely take a further turn for the better and
there will be new opportunities to finish off the job, one that only got
halfway done in October. For now, though, you can smile again: King
Felipe will not forget Sunday in Barcelona any time soon.