In the PSOE there is no document on how to face the multinationality of Spain that has not passed through the hands of Miquel Iceta. He and Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba were the ones who had in mind a viable and alternative model to the uniformity of the PP and the disruptive ways of independence. The Pedralbes Declaration, the agreement reached by the Government of Pedro Sánchez in 2018 with the Executive of Quim Torra to resume the dialogue, are two pages and a paragraph that Iceta can almost recite by heart. He gets angry when he interprets that the independentistas make a distorted reading of what appears in a letter that, like so many others, he always has at hand in his office at the headquarters of the Catalan Socialists.
For years it was theorized that the party most similar to Catalonia was the PSC, with a combination of the so-called Catalan wing and another with a sensitivity closer to the PSOE. That balance was broken with the rise of the procés and some historical names decided to leave the party. The work, first of resistance and after reconstruction, was not easy and the main architect was Iceta, who assumed the leadership when no one was willing to take the step.
The still first secretary of the PSC withdrew so that the one who had been his disciple, Salvador Illa, would become the candidate for the autonomic elections. As the polls predicted, the operation was a success although not enough to become president of the Generalitat. Illa does not occupy the office of Iceta’s first secretary, but since then she has been the leader of the party, with her own team and a different style. In return, Iceta was appointed Minister of Territorial Policy and Public Function, a position that suited him perfectly, thinking about his negotiating skills and not only in the future negotiating table with the Government of Pere Aragonès. He decided to rename the Ministry “the house of covenants” and in just six months he has shown that it was not just a purpose.
‘Iceta, key to dialogue with Catalonia’, titled ‘La Vanguardia’ in one information when he was elected to replace Carolina Darias in Territorial Policy. It was a reading shared by most of the media and analysts, even those who are against reducing the tension with the independence movement. They also understood and explained it in the PSC. Iceta is not a lip service federalist despite the fact that it is not easy to defend this model of territorial structuring neither in Catalonia nor in Madrid. Now he had the opportunity to design a way out of the Catalan conflict, but his joy lasted six months.
The PSC assures that the Catalan leader will continue to play a key role in negotiating with the Government, although several leaders consulted do not hide their surprise at the new destination that Sánchez has chosen for the first secretary. “It will continue to participate in matters that refer to Catalonia,” Illa said to settle the controversy over the change of ministry of Iceta, which since Monday has become the head of Culture and Sports. Elegant, but for the record, Iceta acknowledged in the act of replacement that he felt “a lot” to leave the portfolio of Territorial Policy.
The election of Raquel Sánchez as the new Transport Minister has also caused surprise in the party. He was not in any pool. Endorsed by Illa, it represents a new generation of female mayors of the metropolitan area, who have discreetly been gaining prominence in the PSC. Defined by those who know her as competent and hard-working, she will become a regular interlocutor for Catalan businessmen, something that has been part of Illa’s strategy since she assumed the reins of the party. The role that Convergència had traditionally played is now played by the PSC, which has become a one-stop shop to talk about economic projects.
The most recent study Of all those that have been published on the infrastructure deficit in Catalonia, it is the one published by IESE and several economic entities and universities participate in it. It concludes, like other studies, that investment in Cercanías continues to be one of the pending subjects. The president of Renfe is Isaías Táboas, who was José Montilla’s chief of staff both in the Ministry of Industry and in the Presidency of the Generalitat, and who knows perfectly well that this is an issue that causes great discomfort in Catalonia. In the extensive analysis of IESE, released last week, the controversial expansion of the El Prat airport is also cited, a work that bears the seal of the PSC thanks to the former socialist deputy and now president of AENA, Maurici Lucena. The new minister, who defines herself as an ecologist, has gone from initial reluctance to supporting more explicitly a project that excites Catalan businessmen but arouses misgivings not only among nearby municipalities (including hers) and environmental entities, but also in Brussels because it is an area of the Natura 2,000 network.
Development is one of the ministries with the greatest role in the distribution of European funds, which makes the new minister an interlocutor for other administrations and business sectors. Development and the public works councils are colloquially known as the ‘distributors’ of governments due to their high investment capacity, something that has only been limited in times of greatest crisis. Now, with the arrival of the injection of millions from the European coffers, up to 17,000 million direct for Development, its role has been revalued.
The new minister symbolizes much more than the expansion of the PSC’s quota in the Government. Raquel Sánchez has already become a name to consider for future electoral contests.