Monday, December 24, 2012

President Mas' Inauguration Speech

You can watch the speech (in Catalan).

It wasn't actually my intention to translate it all or perfectly—it *is* Christmas Eve after all—so the beginning contains quotes here and there, and as the speech progressed, I started translating more and more, until the end, where I translated much more carefully, and much more completely.

This legislature was founded on a stable pact.

11.25: There have been many pacts in the last 30 years. This one is particularly new.

11:40: The pact came out of the elections with the highest turnout in the history of the present-day Generalitat, which legitimizes the results. And the pact is made between the two parties that received the best results, Convergència i Unió i Esquerra Republicana.

13:08: This happened in Germany, 10 years ago, slightly differently, since they joined to form a coalition government. But they joined together to work together for the country.

13:38: It also happened recently in Holland, where the first and second parties have joined together to form a government. They are better off than we are, but they also have to make budget cuts, etc.

14:06: So what am I saying? That this government and this legislature are borne of great legitimacy, of a pact between the two leading parties, with an ample majority of the voters of this country, but with an added legitimacy, since their platforms were very clear. People knew exactly what they were voting for.

14:59: Any pact can generate all kinds of reactions. Doubts, questions, and these are all legitimate. And contrasting opinions. That's normal.

We should be judged by our results, and by the field on which we'll play. And if you'll allow me a soccer metaphor, we think the field is ok, it's not flat where the ball rolls along and where you can make great plays to the cheers of the fans. This field is full of puddles and divots. All of us who like sports know that when the field is full of puddles and divots, it's hard to play well. You can play, when the field is full of puddles and divots, but it's difficult to play well. You can play, you have to play. You can win, you have to win. You can give a good show. But the field is full of puddles and divots. And that, like it or not, is the field we've got. So judge what is coming on the results. I'm not asking for any leeway in this respect, but it's still important to remember.

17:25: I believe that this pact is born with firm convictions about its objectives, and I hope with all my heart, and I believe that it will also be so that this pact will be calm in manner. That was clear the other day in the Parliament. Firm in objectives, calm in manner. Put more traditionally, Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo. And that's the way it should be. Keep the objectives of the country in mind, but act in a calm, and in the peaceful, negotiating manner that is in line with the democratic principles of our people, and which I believe are a part of our collective identity.

18:20: I also want to repeat that it is an open pact. It is a pact open to contributions, to new members, even to sharing the governance more widely. It's a pact that was born open, but which requires, of those who wish to join, things that are very obvious, like for example, to be mindful of the realities that we face, to have the will to change that reality in a positive way, one thing is to see the reality and another is to be resigned to it, and also it's important to note, especially given the electoral results, that those who would join us will defend the right of Catalonia to freely express the decision about its own future.

Later, its future may take various forms, and there may be diverging opinions, and there may be different ideas, but what we do ask, is that in order to collaborate fully in the governance of the country, that there be an explicit recognition of this right of Catalonia, like any other people of the world, to exercise its right to self-determination.

19:49: I'm telling you this pact is open, because the current situation is above and beyond any leadership, any government, any government coalition, any parliamentary pact, any relationship between political parties. It is a situation that is so complex that it requires the joint effort of the whole community. It requires the joint effort of a country. A country that I believe should act together as one, or as together as it can. I know that complete agreement is impossible, but as united as we can, in that which is essential, which is fundamental.

20:38: And what is essential and fundamental? Four things.

First, we must have democracy. We are in a hall, the “Saint George Hall” of the Palace of the Generalitat, that has a very long, ancient history. It is from this very hall, in this very palace, where the royal authority was controlled and compensated, and by the way, since the [Spanish] Minister of the Treasury is here with us today, it is from here where taxes were administered. Speaking of historic rights, the Generalitat de Catalonia began as an institution whose primary purpose was to collect taxes, which were then delivered to the king, but always with pacts and compensation, and "privileges" in the language of the era. Never imposed. There was not absolute monarchy, there was a pacted monarchy. It is from here that our spirit of peace and negotiation must come, this spirit of peace and dialog that Catalans have, and that we have attempted to exercise over the centuries. So, democracy, first and foremost.

22:00: Of course, democracy, like this very building, needs foundations and pillars. This Saint George Hall began as a church, the Saint George Chapel was too small for the legislators of the era and they had the idea later of creating this hall, first as a church. Indeed, you can see when you enter, some columns, which are very wide, because they were meant to hold up the weight of all of this. It was supposed to be a church. And I explain that to demonstrate that everything needs pillars. And foundations. Including democracy. It needs its architects. It needs its jurists. And the rule of law is a pillar of democracy. Above all, democracy. Everything else can be changed. Everything else can be adjusted to the events, to the will of the people, as long as they express themselves peacefully, and non-violently. But we must underscore again, this essential characteristic of democracy, that on the other hand, is the great strength of Catalonia for the coming years. We might not have other powers, other strengths, but this one, if we know how to express it, and express it in a majority fashion, this strength, we have to know how to express it and how to exercise it.

23:22: Second thing. Social cohesion. The country must stick together. I know it's very difficult. Because the political dynamics, the dynamics in the Parliament, often lead to confrontation. But the country must be united with respect to maintaining social cohesion. And this social cohesion, let's be clear, has possible fissures. If we express ourselves in terms of events that happened years ago in this country, there are threats of "aluminosis"* in our building of social cohesion. They weren't so obvious some years ago, but the harshness, magnitude, and length of this financial crisis, are provoking, to some extent, these fissures. We will have to create new budgets. And it's important that it be understood that in order to preserve social cohesion, there are people who have had to get used to receiving less than they received, and it's also important that there are people who bring more than they brought previously. The two things form part of the reality. A reality which we hope is temporary. That's not permanent. Both from the point of view of those who receive less, who can once again receive their share, and from the point of view of those who will have to bring more, from both of those two points of view, we hope we will return to normality. But now, that's where we are. It will be important to properly divide the sacrifices and maintain the treasure, which is very important, that is, the social cohesion of the country.

25:08: Third essential point. Economic recovery. And because we cannot count on great growth, the objective will have to be a change in the direction, that instead of heading downward, as we have, we'll be able to say that we are improving, and heading upward. This won't be in the very short term, there won't be a huge effect on employment when the direction changes, but it is fundamental to, as they say, hit bottom, and then begin to grow again, even if at the beginning, we do so slowly. Why do I say that? I say that because beyond the budget cuts, which have become very famous in common speech, there is a more brutal reality, which is our unemployment situation. It is even more grave. Because it is that they undermines expectations, undermines hope, and can even undermine families themselves. Therefore, economic recovery is absolutely essential, so that the country is as united as possible.

26:14: The fourth and last essential point with which the country must be as united as possible is that Catalonia can decide its own future. Changing the direction of history of a country, as we surely are about to do at this moment, changing the direction of a country is like turning a transatlantic ship, especially we're talking about the history of the country that is Catalonia. It is a long history, a very long history with very deep roots, indeed it's is a thousand year long history, it is not an improvised history, nor was it borne of a constitution, nor did it come from a statute. This all comes from way back.

Therefore, changing Catalonia's direction, as is happening right now, and indeed that a significant portion of the Catalan population is asking us to do, is like changing the direction of a transatlantic ship. You can't turn it on a dime. It's a maneuver that must be handled properly. It's important, therefore, for us all to have that very clear in our minds.

27:23: It's for that reason that I have spoken so often of "national transition". It's not a sudden change, it's not a sudden shift of the rudder, but instead the change in direction is a gradual transition. I think that this is well stipulated in the agreements that we have established in the current Catalan political situation. Agreements, that I insist, must have more participation than they have had up til now. Therefore, with an outstretched hand, I hope we can encourage more participation.

27:54: There may be people who may think that this new era of Catalan politics, that this change of direction in our history, if you'll allow me a maritime analogy, it's as if you jointly took the helm. Imagine two ships, which at the current trajectory, are headed for a collision. There's clearly a risk. And the idea is that the people in the ships, and the people driving the ships avoid a collision at all cost, because a collision isn't good for anyone. But remember that if nothing is done, if there was not a desire on the part of Catalan political spectrum to change directions, in that case, we would be adrift. And when you drift, the most likely outcome is to end up against the rocks.

28:53: Therefore, is there risk of collision? Of course. We have to make every effort to avoid one. Obviously. We must commit ourselves to avoiding a collision. But the rest? To do nothing, to be impassive, to look the other way from a comfortable position, etc etc., will set us adrift, and there is generally a very short distance from drifting to running aground on the rocks.

So, it's essential that the country be united, that Catalonia can freely decide its own future, and it would be good in that respect, let me say, that the State to which we currently belong, the Spanish State, try not to keep Catalonia from exercising its right to self determination or to cage the will and freedom of expression of the Catalan people.

29:49: This is a country that has considered itself a nation for many centuries, that has always been open to negotiation, that has always behaved loyally, with a desire to collaborate. These will continue to be our defining characteristics, they are part of our collective identity, that these walls have been a witness to over many years, but we find ourselves obliged to demand, especially since all of us worked hard, struggled for, and consolidated the democracy, at this time, it should be democratic values that lead the way.

30:19: The last thing that I wanted to tell you. I believe that we are, all of us, not just the President, or the Generalitat, or the President of the Parliament, we are all protagonists of a unique moment in our history. A unique moment that will put us all to the test. It will test us all individually, each one of us, and it will test us collectively, as a country. A unique moment, as you will note, does not mean a placid moment. It doesn't mean an idyllic moment. And certainly not a rose-colored moment. A unique moment is none of that.

31:00: Unique means transcendent. It means it goes beyond our day-to-day. It goes beyond a legislature, and beyond, in many ways, an entire generation. A transcendent moment is that. I don't want to make is more solemn than it deserves, but I think it's good to note the transcendent moment that the country is going through, to underscore the unique moment that it is up to us, all together, to protagonize.

And let us all remember, in the history of countries and nations, big changes have almost always come against the current. If you take a look, you'll see that it's normally that way. Big changes have come at complicated moments in time, and almost always, against the current. Because it's been necessary to struggle against the established status quo, that must be turned around, from many points of view, and it's very difficult to turn around, because the easiest thing is to give in to inertia.

But a unique moment requires a different attitude. How do I face them myself, if you'll allow me a very small personal reference? How do I face this unique moment, in which I am made President of the Generalitat for the second time in my life, two years after the first investiture?

I face it with a complete commitment to overcome all of the difficulties that we will face in the future. I face it with an iron will to overcome the obstacles that we will find ahead, that we are sure to find. And in addition, I will face it, if you'll allow me, with words that were uttered in this very Saint George Hall, by someone who is no longer here, who was Josep Maria Ainaud de Lasarte, who in this very hall, upon receiving the Gold Medal of the Generalitat de Catalunya, stood up, despite his very precarious health, tremendously precarious, with a weak body but a great spiritual strength, that man stood up in front of the whole auditorium, and said something which I already quoted a few weeks ago, in the Catalan Parliament: "Have faith in Catalonia. Above all, have faith in Catalonia." And this faith in Catalonia, this great faith in Catalonia, well, there is nothing and no one who can take it away from us.

Thank you, and Merry Christmas to all.

*aluminosis was a structural problem in some buildings in Catalonia which caused them to break down and even fall apart.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Liz for all your great effort in spreading out what happpens in Catalonia, our country.