Spanish government tries to reconnect King with Catalonia
King Felipe VI is to travel twice to Barcelona amid debate over pardons
MadridWith the arrival of ERC to the presidency of the Generalitat, the Spanish government has launched a new operation hand in hand with the campaign for the granting of pardons: an attempt to reconnect King Felipe VI with Catalonia after the rupture of the speech of 3-O and the controversial decision to refuse to attend the opening of judicial offices in Barcelona in September. Since then, Pedro Sánchez has tried to redirect the situation with the Zarzuela. But it is in the peak of the pardons debate that the King has decided to return to Barcelona. This Wednesday's visit is only the first: he will also be in Barcelona this weekend for the opening of the Mobile Word Congress - after last year's cancellation due to the coronavirus - and it is expected that on July 1st, he will also deliver the Princess of Girona Awards in Barcelona, once the pardons will have been granted to the pro-independence leaders.
"The King will be following the Catalan agenda whenever it is needed and required with total normality, and this is important", sources of the Spanish government emphasised on Wednesday. The government have wanted to iron out the fact that the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, did not attend the dinner organized by the Cercle d'Economia and have pointed out that the important thing is that there is representation of the Catalan executive after years of this ruptured relationship. They celebrate that the Republicans are gradually "adapting" to the new situation and that they are recovering, in their opinion, some institutional respect. In fact, they emphasize that, despite everything, Aragonès and the monarch have coincided in a "private" meeting with a delegation of Korean businessmen and the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, before dinner.
A complicated reconciliation
The visits of King Felipe VI to Catalonia come at a time when PP is placing the Zarzuela in a difficult position after the President of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, put into question the monarch signing the pardons despite him having to do so by constitutional imperative, since he cannot participate in partisan politics. Nor has the King done much lately to reach out to Catalonia. Visits have been announced at the last minute, in spaces shielded from protests or even in private meetings and not announced ahead of time. Since 2017, he has always been received with rejection rallies that during the last year - in a context of pandemic - have been decreasing.
Be that as it may, the Spanish government considers the greeting in the Cercle d'Economia as a turning point, after Aragonès assured in December that he would not go to any act that elevates the monarchy. The government of Pedro Sánchez, however, has not wanted to give much hype to the issue. On Tuesday, the minister spokeswoman, María Jesús Montero, said that they understood perfectly well that the President of the Generalitat did not go to the dinner in response to his "ideology" and that it was necessary to take into account that the important thing is that there was institutional representation of the Government. This Wednesday, Sánchez has limited himself to saying that it was "desirable" that in important acts in Catalonia with the attendance of the King, the Generalitat was also present.
After the clash nine months ago, when the King aligned himself with the judiciary by vetoing the event in Barcelona, the Spanish President has been pampering the royal house for some time. Above all, protecting it from the scandals of Juan Carlos I -the last one, an account in Andorra-. For the time being, he has left the law of the Crown in a drawer because he considers that ending the inviolability would be a complicated process. Yes, by surprise, PSOE joined on Tuesday to a proposed law by Podemos in Congress to end the insults to the Crown in the Penal Code. Another step to try to reconnect with Catalonia, despite the fact that the initiative is only beginning in Congress.