Few signs are clearer that the procés stage is a thing of the past than the vote on Thursday, when sovereignty has barely been able to agree on a single motion for a resolution to chart a new route to independence. The invitation to call a new referendum in this legislature, promoted by the CUP, has generated discord with the rest of the pro-independence formations. Neither has the resounding endorsement of the dialogue table proposed by ERC seduced its investiture partners, and yet it has ended up being approved by the PSC and the ‘comuns’.
Aragonès asks the independentistas not to miss “the train of negotiation” with the Government
Only the joint proposal of the Republicans with the Junts to “continue working to propose a new democratic attack” has managed to be approved, but with an abstention by the CUP. The general policy debate, which serves to open the parliamentary course in Catalonia and set the objectives for the year, has found that each of the three pro-independence formations has a different opinion regarding a new referendum.
Self-determination, as a generic bet, has received an expected parliamentary endorsement. The differences have come when it comes to putting theory into action. The CUP, a priority partner of the Government for budgets, has set the chamber on fire with a proposal that, if approved, committed the Executive of Pere Aragonès to hold a referendum during this legislature.
The initiative of the anti-capitalists has not liked, especially Junts, who holds the presidency of the Chamber. Carles Puigdemont’s party has argued that, being a debate prohibited by the Constitutional Court, processing this proposal put the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, and the Board at criminal risk. However, the five pro-independence members of the body have ended up giving their approval to the process, but the proposal has received a negative vote in plenary.
Beyond the judicial issues, neither of the two great pro-independence formations have fitted the CUP proposal well. ERC has problems with the period, because it assures that it wants to give more time to the dialogue table. “Setting a date for a referendum takes us away from independence”, Oriol Junqueras assured this Thursday on Catalunya Ràdio. For its part, and leaving aside the suspicion to process the initiative due to the possible criminal consequences, Junts argues that only an agreed referendum can go beyond the “mandate of October 1”, so a new unilateral consultation cannot be called. .
The referendum before 2025, therefore, has embarked on the first great plenary session of this legislature, which marks an unprecedented milestone in the last decade. Unilateralism has fallen off the Catalan agenda.
But the division of the independence bloc has gone further, since the three parties have not been able to agree on the resolutions that speak of the dialogue table. ERC had proposed a text to “move towards a democratic resolution of the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain, by promoting the negotiation process articulated through a political dialogue and negotiation table between both governments.” A draft that has left Junts and the CUP cold.
Despite the misgivings of the rest of the independentistas, the Republicans have been able to win several key votes for them. Although with important nuances and having to spin fine, ERC’s commitment to institutional dialogue has received an important boost, as has the text that defends the amnesty and proposes that the parties present a bill on the matter in the Congeso.
They have also counted on a poisoned cape from the ‘comuns’, who had presented an initiative in which, although they showed the support of the Chamber for Aragonès for the negotiation, they also guaranteed that it would leave Junts out by demanding that the delegations go only “between governments”. Despite being forced to vote separately, the Republicans have supported the proposal, which has also gone ahead with the Socialists.
Aragonès saves the unit with Junts
Pere Aragonès leaves this week’s debate having saved the unity with the Junts regarding the dialogue and the independence plan, but having lost the anti-capitalists as support in the Chamber. An issue that can become a problem when approving the 2022 budgets. These accounts, the first after the pandemic, are strategic and both Aragonès and the Minister of Economy, Jaume Giró, would prefer to approve them together with the CUP. But, faced with the misgivings of the anti-capitalists, the PSC also offers itself as a partner.
The Socialists have played a leading role this week, not only as leaders of the opposition but also seeking and exposing the differences between ERC and Junts. They have agreed with the former to carry out an agenda committed to dialogue and the table established between Moncloa and the Generalitat. Meanwhile, the Socialists have taken forward economic initiatives with Junts, such as maintaining the agreement to expand the El Prat airport or the endorsement of the candidacy for the Winter Olympics. In this way, the PSC has not only made explicit before the plenary session the seams that exist between the partners of the Government but has also shown that it can become a useful hinge for both.
That the PSC and the Junts have brought out common points has been one of the hard realities to swallow for ERC, who consider that both formations have common interests to wear them down. “Sociovergence is being imposed again”, has denounced in a harsh tone Marta Vilalta, spokeswoman for the Republicans. “It hurts us to see that today agreements are reached that avoid loyalty and pacts between partners,” he said.
But, behind the sour words, the image left by the debate of this beginning of the Catalan political course is that the division in the Government has become entrenched and that both partners may need the PSC in the near future to add a majority. It is not by chance that the plenary session has also given almost unanimous support to the renewal of important institutional bodies, such as the Guarantees Council, the control bodies or the public media corporation that TV3 directs. Organizations that need qualified majorities to get ahead and that, despite the division in many aspects experienced by the majority of the Government or the independence movement, are now possible to forge in the Parliament thanks to the outstretched hand of opposition groups.