The country needs a government

2 min
Pere Aragonès at Wednesday's event to pay tribute to the anniversary of the Second Republic

Yesterday marked two months since the 14 February elections and, after a failed investiture debate, there is still no prospect of a pact between ERC and Junts. The situation is worrying because not only does the agreement seem distant; the negotiations are not even on track. In fact, the negotiating teams have not met for a week (they last met face to face last Wednesday) and the last known episode is that ERC sent Junts a proposal for a pact that includes the guidelines for a new Government (but without the distribution of cabinet posts), the government plan and the role that the Consell per la República has to have. This document was the response to a previous document Junts had sent.

At this point, ERC is waiting for an answer and Junts accuses the republicans of being too generic in their proposals but does not make public what theirs are either. And in between, the ambient noise continues. In the end, the two spaces have not yet made a common diagnosis of what happened in October 2017 nor a consensual reading of the result of 14 February. In fact, some voices in Junts insist that the result is not a victory for ERC but a draw.

It is logical that ERC is in a greater hurry to reach an agreement, since its candidate is the one who would occupy the presidency of the Generalitat, but ERC are right when they stress that the country cannot afford to maintain an interim government for such a long time. We recall that Catalonia has been without a president since 28 September, when Quim Torra left the Palau after being disqualified. We have therefore spent more than half a year with an acting government that, while it can manage the day-to-day, cannot draw the broad outlines of the future or move forward with more ambitious projects at a critical time.

The delay could end up forcing an agonising negotiation at the last minute and, as in the game of chicken, end in an accident in the form of a repeat election, a highly undesirable scenario. The longer it takes to reach an agreement, the more strength the sectors of Junts that prefer either a repeat election or to remain in the opposition can gain. This is why it is important to see if there are effective negotiating moves in the coming days.

The argument that it is better to spend a little more time now to close a good agreement is plausible in a context of normality, but not in the current pandemic, when a strong Government is needed to manage the health and economic crisis. One month should have been more than enough time to agree on a government, providing there were good will on all sides.