Monday, November 28

The abstention of ERC and Junts allows the initial processing of the Barcelona budgets

The abstention of ERC and Junts has allowed the initial processing of the budget of the Barcelona City Council for 2023. The two pro-independence groups have made it easier for the proposal of the government of Barcelona en Comú and the PSC to pass the first step in the Economy and Finance Commission .

From now on, the government and the opposition have about two months to negotiate it, since the final vote on the bills will take place in the plenary session in December. Ciudadanos, PP, Valents and the non-attached councilor Marilén Barceló have voted against.

The main opposition group, ERC, has justified the abstention by “responsibility” but has assured that its support for the bills in the final vote is by no means guaranteed.

Both BComú and the PSC defended from the beginning that it was a first step and were willing to negotiate. In fact, the first deputy mayor for the Economy, Jaume Collboni, has recalled that previous budgets have been approved thanks to the support of ERC, Junts or Valents (Manuel Valls’s former party) and even with the abstention of the PP.

Collboni defended the executive’s proposal and at the same time remarked that what was decided today was only the possibility of debating and processing the budgets, with which he showed his hand to negotiate with the opposition to reach an agreement at the end of the year. “I would ask for a sense of the moment we are experiencing and what people expect from politics today,” said the socialist.

For his part, Councilor for Budgets Jordi Martí (BComú), pointed out that the government’s proposal is “the best budget proposal in a context of crisis and full of uncertainties.” “We are convinced that the proposal is good, but it will be even more so when we reach the agreement to make it a reality,” he added, pointing out that ERC is “accomplice” in most of the policies that the budget develops.

Abstention from ERC and Junts

ERC focused on criticizing the limited margin given to the opposition to analyze the budget rather than talking about the accounts themselves. Republican councilman Jordi Castellana recalled that on Friday they had access to a Power Point presentation that was delivered to the press while the detailed document was not received until Monday and a thirty-minute meeting was called on Tuesday. “Today they could have been responsible and postpone the negotiation to November,” Castellana said during the commission and before expressing the meaning of the vote. “If it’s just carrying out a procedure, let’s start with a blank piece of paper,” he replied to Collboni and Martí.

However, in the last turn of speech and after speaking of an “irresponsible” government and accusing them of putting the opposition “between a rock and a hard place”, he pointed out that “the city of Barcelona is lucky, and that is ERC is responsible”. Thus, the Republicans abstained and indicated that they will begin to analyze the figures in detail, but warned that if they want the 2023 budget to be approved in December “they will have to change substance and forms.”

For his part, Junts also abstained and agreed that they received the documents late. The formation denies that it is a budget that responds to the needs of the city, as the government affirms, and has already advanced that they will present allegations. Junts sources have clarified after the vote that giving the green light to the procedure does not mean that they end up voting in favor. “They are not our budgets and almost certainly they will not be, but we are a responsible group, with a vocation to govern the city and this budget proposal comes at a very critical moment for many citizens, companies and the social fabric”, have expressed the same sources.

Opposite vote of Cs, PP and Valents

Ciutadans has already said from the outset that it would not facilitate the process. In fact, the only formation that has always voted against the budget in this mandate has been the oranges, who have taken it for granted that it will be approved “with some other of the usual partners.” Luz Guilarte lamented the “little transparency” and the “rush” of the executive to process the accounts and charged against the fiscal pressure and the common and socialist approach.

For his part, Josep Bou, also criticized some games and, for example, said that what is planned for the self-employed is “a handout”. In addition, he was in favor of improving municipal management. “I want a budget approved,” he acknowledged. However, he also admitted that his situation “is what it is” – in relation to the party he represents, the PP. At the time of expressing the meaning of the vote, Bou has said that it was a vote against but “waiting”.

Valents – who last year facilitated this same procedure for the 2022 budget – has justified that if anyone has shown responsibility from the opposition during the mandate it has been them, but has criticized that the municipal government has sinned this time of “arrogance”. According to him, the way in which the government presents its budget proposal to the groups is not “serious.”

For this reason, he added: “I won’t wait to see what ERC will do… I don’t care. Today I tell you: start the procedure again from scratch, presenting it in the next commission and we will see this month if you really have the will to reach a consensus”.

Tension with the Republicans

During the session, and in the face of criticism from the ERC, both Collboni and Martí responded to the Republicans. Collboni questioned Castellana’s word and asked that they be allowed to govern and have “the same constructive attitude” as the head of the opposition in Parliament, Salvador Illa.

In turn, Martí was “concerned” with the Republican attitude: “ERC is left alone in Parliament, but it seems that they want to lose possible alliances [en el Ayuntamiento de Barcelona] becoming a super-isolated party.” In addition, he has challenged the group led by Ernest Maragall: “Honestly, do you think that this government is not capable of reaching an agreement with a budget for continuity?” The result of all this will be seen later, since according to the planned schedule, the final approval of the budget will be voted on in plenary on December 23.