27/03/2021

Pending bills

3 min
Outstanding invoices
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When politics becomes Senyor Esteve's Sunday afternoon, going through bills and invoices, the dangerous temptation to walk away grows. The first session of the investiture debate of Pere Aragonès ended up failing, as expected after Junts announced its abstention. The tone of the interventions distances the possibility of a coalition agreement in the near future and spreads the feeling that the level of politics continues in free fall.

ERC had played hardball by concluding an agreement with the CUP before opening a stable line of dialogue with the main partner, and Junts opted to take offence with a list of grievances presented through Albert Batet, who raised the price of eventual political support by recalling the number of its essential MPs and reproaching ERC for its role during the last legislature in the Parliament, where, he said, on "30 January the legitimacy of the presidency was not defended".

Junts wants an agreement that goes beyond government portfolios: one which aligns strategies in Madrid and abroad. In fact, what Junts wants is to not give up the two-party leadership of independence and considers that the election results are a technical draw - and not a defeat.

The main practical stumbling block is the role of the Consell per la República and the authority of Carles Puigdemont, who is the main asset of the diplomacy of the Catalan independence bid and at the same time represents the ancient drama of the fear of oblivion and the distance between the evolution of life both inside and outside. Puigdemont knows that the passage of time erodes his capacity to influence, and he perceives the presidency in the hands of ERC as a threat to his representativeness and recognition.

No common diagnosis

Friday's debate once again showed that there is no common diagnosis of the situation and that the two parties have pending accounts that are difficult to overcome. Today the two main parties of independence have a very different view of the successes and failures of 2017; and, without diagnosis and with pending bills, it is easier to settle in resentment and reproaches than to move in the direction of an administration capable of rebuilding the country in full pandemic and with the GDP falling to 11.5%.

Batet cooled expectations of having a government soon and vindicated the agreement with the CUP to invest Carles Puigdemont, which he described as a good agreement "because we did 1-O and declared independence".

More than three years later, it would be good to admit that 1-O was a collective success on its own merits, but also largely due to the brutal and anti-political attitude of the Rajoy government. The referendum did not meet the conditions for the international recognition that was essential to advance in the political sphere, and the declaration of the 27th had a limited scope. As limited as the profound silence of that Friday and the disappearance of the political leadership that same weekend. The possibility of getting stuck in the trauma of 2017 is real and detrimental to the future of the country, which needs politics urgently.

It is not about turning the page and even less in the sense proposed by Salvador Illa, who has a national ambition for Catalonia comparable to that of the community of Murcia. But settling into unpaid bills and resentment only harms Catalan society as a whole, which is losing competitiveness with each passing day. We must make politics and accept that today it is autonomous politics, yes, but without endangering the institutions or the capacity to govern. We must make the most of the administration's capacities to make life easier for the citizens who are having a hard time today.

New elections?

Recovering the institutions of the 155 was not to occupy them symbolically but to govern and to enter with all the consequences in the office of the president of the Generalitat to fight against the degradation and decadence that today threaten the country. Management is not incompatible but an ally of national construction and political aspirations.

If pro-independence parties do not reach an agreement, we can start thinking about new elections. Patience will be needed because the elections in Madrid complicate the movements of a PSOE and a PSC that seem to aspire to preserve the status quo without having the courage to execute the pardons that would improve the political climate.

Aragonès quoted Pasqual Maragall to speak of "a new Catalonia, more uninhibited, less sacred and less sacralising, more down to earth". A Catalonia that calls a spade a spade and calls for accountability beyond the trauma of 2017.

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