It goes almost without saying that both the pro-independence movement, as well as the status quo, has yet to establish the correct message regarding their goals. In fact, aside from the obvious: “leave Spain” or “stay in Spain,” the goals have not been clearly communicated, therefore, the situation for both groups lack scope, schedule, cost, risk assessment, communication (of course,) and, most importantly, stakeholder management.
Now you might say that the status quo group does not require anything since they are not proposing a unique product, result or service. However, just in the way that a company has to develop a project to address advancements in technology, a lawsuit from the outside or any corporate risk, so must the politicians, as well as other “sponsors” of remaining in Spain, should approach their goals within the framework of project management, including establishing an effectual project manager.
Whether the pro-independence is group is willing to accept the consequences of negatively impacting the socio-economic structure, and the ruling central government is willing to avoid doing anything, both parties need to communicate their intentions to all the stakeholders, especially the key ones, which include the citizenry within and beyond Catalonia. And the reason, or rather reasons, for this, is quite simple: POLITICS and the FEAR, which are actually connected.
On the part of the central government, they fear that they might alienate one or more constituencies prior to and beyond the upcoming elections on November 10. Though the socialist party is in power at the time of this writing, they could lose parliamentary seats, which might make it impossible, even more than at present, to form a government. Therefore, they both “fear” the implications of the “politics” involved. On the part of the pro-independence group, they are mostly in FEAR for their livelihoods, since they have seen their comrades jailed for over two years before they were even sentenced, and now face from 9 to 13 years in prison, plus another 9 to 13 years, respectively prohibiting them to serve in politics; thereby effectively ruining their livelihoods. That said, they are starting to overcome those fears since the powerlessness they feel is turning into anger.
At the time of this writing, the central government has already issued two communiqués / publicity efforts geared towards defending Spanish democracy. At the same time, the Spanish high court has prohibited the Catalonian Parliament from talking about independence during their regular sessions. Therefore, if parliamentarians cannot discuss this issue within the prescribed political framework, then how else can they? Go back on the streets? Hold another “illegal” referendum? Through civil disobedience, which we are seeing now?
On the one hand, the central government’s position to not even address the issue of independence is quite understandable. For them, it is an impossible request. Catalonia not only generates 20+% of GDP and, therefore, it would be like asking a drowning person to toss away their life-vest, but it would also be a national psychological crisis for many Spaniards to lose a portion of their country. However, as understandable as it might seem to simply not address the issue, they have to do so. Because not only are they ignoring the requests of the pro-independence Catalonians, but also of the rest of their citizenry who are in a crisis of uncertainty.
For those of us expats here, we mostly just see the logistics, consequences, and inconveniences this situation has caused. We do not experience the same feelings of patriotism, cultural sensitivities, and the historical baggage Catalonians and Spaniards carry with them. For us, we worry about things such as Catalonia having to leave the EU, at least in the beginning; more companies leaving Catalonia; the economic turmoil both countries (a smaller Spain and a new Catalonia) will experience, and so on. However, for the locals, and neighboring Spaniards, it has a lot to do with national identity and pride. If we could all be like “Mr. Spock,” and here I will allow myself to show my “nerd” side, we could approach this situation clinically as a project.
If we look at the ongoing separatist issue as a project, and I will use the separatist position here, we would need to have at least an initial plan.
Project Charter: some document we can read that addresses, at a minimum, the following:
- Statement of Work: extricate Catalonia from Spain, including or excluding the Balearic Islands. Work will also include setting up the new republic and try to remain in the EU or else begin the application process to join as a new country.
- Schedule: immediate transition or build up to it gradually over the next five years.
- Budget: how much will this cost the region in staff and volunteer hours, as well as in actual costs.
- High-level risks: I know these are obvious, but we would still list them:
- (-) Loss of investment
- (-) Lack of recognition by other countries
- (-) High budget overruns and inflation
- (+) More freedom to self-govern
- (+) Establish the republic and leave the monarchy
- (+) End strikes and demonstrations, if pro-Spain citizens leave or adjust to living in this new country
- Sponsor: a majority of Catalonians as determined by a new legally binding referendum or the one from two years ago.
- Project Manager: This is a key issue. There seems to be a void in this area. There are leaders either jailed or exiled, plus current politicians, but they are limited by threats of imprisonment from Madrid.
As we all know, the success of any project is based on many components, but having a good Project Manager, clear success criteria, and effective stakeholder management are essential. In these tense times, stakeholder management seems to be what we need and fast!