Saturday, May 28

Self-determination and amnesty threaten to bring the dialogue table to collapse

The starting points of the Government and the Generalitat to fit a solution to the political conflict in Catalonia are so disparate that it is difficult to see the functioning of the dialogue table that Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès have promised to reactivate in mid-September. At the moment, the only thing they agree on is the willingness to sit down, but the positions of the maximums of both parties threaten to lead to the collapse of that body agreed by PSOE and ERC in the negotiation of the investiture of the socialist president.

Sánchez and Aragonès reactivate the dialogue table but opt ​​for incompatible paths

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The demands of a referendum on self-determination and amnesty for those involved in the you process they put at risk that that table can advance. As soon as he left Moncloa, Aragonès made it clear that the independence movement would not renounce independence and gave little room for an alternative that could satisfy the Generalitat. “The middle way is the referendum, because the starting point is independence,” he answered the question of what could be the intermediate point between both parties.

Sánchez took just twelve hours to reiterate his ‘no’ to the aspirations of the independentistas. “There will be no referendum on self-determination unless those who defend it manage to convince three-fifths of this House to modify Article 2 of the Spanish Constitution and subsequently the Spanish men and women ratify that change by means of a referendum [advirtió en su comparecencia en el Congreso este miércoles]. I already tell you that the PSOE, of which I am honored to be its secretary general, will never, ever accept this type of derivative ”.

The president gave the parliamentary solemnity to a refusal that the Socialists have been reiterating for years and that adds to the rejection of an amnesty to which they do not see legal fit either. In fact, the Executive maintains that Carles Puigdemont and the rest of the leaders who left Spain to evade justice will have to render accounts before the judiciary if they return. “It is the will of the Government that these people respond to the courts like the rest of the people who have been tried or linked to the you process“, said the spokeswoman, María Jesús Montero, after the meeting between Sánchez and Aragonès in which the Catalan demanded a solution for the” exiles “.

“There is a counselor who left Spain and who has recently returned, who is the former counselor Serret. Therefore, I think it is quite clear what everyone has to do,” added Sánchez, who was willing to modify the Penal Code to change the penalties for sedition but warned that they do not give him the numbers: “Our will persists, we want to do it and I think it can be good for Spanish democracy. Unfortunately, there is no political consensus in this Parliament.”

Sánchez’s refusal to accept the Government’s proposal was answered by ERC’s spokesman, Gabriel Rufián, who took the opportunity to highlight the changes in the president’s position on the day that explained the decision to grant the grace measure to the leaders of the you process who have been 44 months in prison. “Mr. President, you have said that there will never be a referendum on self-determination. The truth is that you also said that there would never be pardons. So give us time,” he snapped.

The response of the Republican spokesman was immediately used by the right against Sánchez, but in the Government they play down its importance. “Each one speaks to his parish,” reflects a member of Sánchez’s cabinet in reference to the pressure of independence on ERC, “but the important thing is that on a day-to-day basis they are within the law and institutionality.” “The pardons could be done, but not everything else,” argues a senior government official.

Sánchez: “If we live together, we decide together”

The great unknown is how the work will be articulated in the dialogue table so that it does not run aground from the beginning with incompatible approaches. “That is the question,” replied Sánchez in La Sexta to the question of what the meeting point could be. In the Executive they hope that the independence movement will move and that is why they reiterate the message that there is a very important part of Catalan society that does not agree with the separation from the rest of the State.

“Now Catalonia has to speak with Catalonia. What it cannot do is make invisible a not lesser part of Catalonia that does not agree with this roadmap that would lead to an even greater breakdown of coexistence,” said Sánchez. Moncloa’s argument is that ERC, Junts and the CUP do not even have enough force in the Parliament for legislative changes that require reinforced majorities, such as a statutory reform or the election of TV3 to try to achieve independence with a smaller percentage.

The Government insists that the dialogue will be “difficult” and they already warn that there are no “guarantees of success”. In private, some members of the cabinet do not hide their skepticism regarding the resolution of the conflict, because they take it for granted that ERC will remain in its top positions, but they consider that the gestures that are being made in terms of investments, to stop discriminating to Catalonia budgetary, in infrastructures, etc. they will help reduce supports for independence. The deputy secretary general of the PSOE, Adriana Lastra, was more optimistic in ensuring that “consensus is reached from dissent.” “Is dialogue an end in itself? No. It always has to end in a pact,” he said on RTVE.

That is why Moncloa insists on beginning to speak for what there may be points of understanding. The Government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, demanded that the Generalitat exceed its starting point, although the Government assumes that it does not renounce its ultimate objective, which is independence. “That phase only of desideratum, extreme positions, or optimal positions and advance in terms of issues that may be viable,” said Montero.

These intermediate proposals are included in the Agenda for the Reunion prepared by the Executive based on the demands that Artur Mas and Carles Puigdemont made to Mariano Rajoy, with the exception of the referendum. The Socialists already collected a good part of these claims in the Barcelona Declaration -and even some have already been fulfilled, such as the budget investment that corresponds to Catalonia based on its contribution to GDP- which contemplates the development of the parts of the Statute that were “declared unconstitutional more for legal reasons than in substance” , according to that text.

In addition to the culmination of some transfers, that proposal signed by PSOE and PSC in July 2017 during the prelude to the process that led to the unilateral declaration of independence includes the promise to reform the organic law of the Judiciary so that Catalonia has a decentralized instance of the CGPJ.

Aragonès: “The middle way is independence”

The first vice president, Carmen Calvo, also opened the door to a consultation at the state level on the fit of Catalonia in Spain based on article 92 of the Constitution. “Everything that may be within the framework of legality, constitutionality, is part of the politics of our country,” he replied in an interview in RNE’s Las Mañanas. Although Calvo did not rule out that referendum, he assured that the Government “is not in it.” “We are about to get out of a pandemic, to raise up and rebuild a country that has had an economic and social crisis,” Calvo replied.

“We must not interpret what the vice president has said in one sense or another,” Sánchez later said: “We are very clear. If we live together, we decide together.” “The right to self-determination does not exist,” added Sánchez, who stressed that “it has no constitutional capacity” and that “it would lead to a greater undermining of coexistence.” Hence, the president’s bet is to vote – according to the PSOE and ERC pact for the investiture, which included a consultation in Catalonia on the conclusions reached – on “an agreement” and not a “disagreement”.

Despite these calls, Aragonès circumscribed the most technical issues and those related to investments or infrastructures to the bilateral commission between Catalonia and the State that will meet throughout the month of July and left the political conflict as such for the dialogue table. The president of the Generalitat made it clear that returning to the statutory negotiation is a past screen and that they will not renounce independence. “In a complex, difficult negotiation like this one, it is not a matter of finding the middle ways in the first minute. For us, the middle way is the referendum because the starting point is independence ”, declared Aragonès.