Misc 20/01/2021

Government warns it will fight "to the end" to prevent February elections

Opposition criticises Government for poorly redacted decree

Quim Bertomeu
3 min
El vicepresident del Govern, Pere Aragonès, aquest dimecres.

BarcelonaThe political mess generated by the Catalan high Court's decision to maintain the date of the elections on February 14th - and to provisionally halt their postponement - has made its way to the Catalan Parliament this Wednesday. It was the Government itself that decided to bring it up, and vice-president Pere Aragonès warned that the Catalan executive will not give up and will fight the preliminary decision in court. "We will fight to the end to defend the [postponement of elections to 30 May", he proclaimed. All the opposition except the CUP has criticised the Government for its "incompetence", since it considers that the problem is that the decree it issued to cancel Election Day was poorly drawn up.

Aragonès asked to speak and explain himself, even though it was not initially planned. His speech began with criticism of the High Court: "Concern, perplexity and indignation" over the decision to hold the elections on 14 February. The Government's argument is that the vote should not be held for two reasons: on the one hand, calling five million people to the polls in the midst of the third wave poses a serious health risk; on the other, it could cause a huge drop in participation because of people being too scared to catch the virus to go to vote. In short, Aragonès believes it is "common sense" to change the election date and he has spoken of the decision of the High Court as another "judicialisation" of decisions emanating from Parliament or Government.

The opposition has told a completely different story. It is true that the majority of the parties are still in favour of postponing the elections for health reasons, but they consider that the problem is that the Government the decree issued to call off the elections is faulty. They don't believe, by any stretch of the imagination, that the fault lies with the High Court. The leader of Ciudadanos, Carlos Carrizosa, has claimed he saw it coming already on Friday, when they decided to postpone the elections: "I looked at the decree and thought: 'This will be toruble'". The spokesperson for the Socialists, Eva Granados, has continued in the same vein, considering that the decree is more appropriate for a government that wants a "to tamper with the elections" than one that seeks "legal security". "It is clear that Catalonia needs an electoral postponement, but the Government does not know how to postpone the elections", assured the leader of the comuns, Jéssica Albiach. The PP's Alejandro Fernández thinks everything can be summed up in two words: "Incompetence and bravado".

CUP calls for calm

The CUP has not aligned itself with either of the two sides that have been created in the Chamber and has called for calm. The deputy Vidal Aragonés, a lawyer by profession, has argued that what the High Court has done is "a book precautionary measure". In other words, that the postponement is still possible and that right now nothing can be taken for granted. He has even dared to make a prognosis that the court will rule "neither black nor white" and that it could dictate an alternative date. He went as far as suggesting Aragonès should prepare a decree for a new date dictated by the courts.

ERC and JxCat have stood by the vice-president and claimed all this is once again an attempt by the judges to interfere in Catalan politics, this time to favour the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). "The regime has changed its candidate; before it was Arrimadas, now it is Illa", said ERC's Sergi Sabrià. Despite agreeing on this point, JxCat threw a jab at its partner in government for the pacts in Congress that it has made with the Socialists in the last year. "You can't come here and attack the PSC and give free votes to the Socialists in the Spanish Parliament," said Albert Batet.