16/11/2021

Agonising negotiation of the budget

2 min
Dolors Sabater and other members of the outgoing CUP of the Palau de la Generalitat

The CUP has shown its discomfort with the budget presented by the ERC-JxCat coalition government. Nevertheless, this agonizing negotiation will be creating far larger discomfort across Catalan society. It is not the first and businesses, charities and organisations in health and culture are hoping for this budget to be approved to help the country find its way out of the crisis. It has been a long time since Catalonia has seen such expansive budgets. Naturally, the detail and distribution of items can be debated, but the mere fact that there is a general increase is in itself good news. That is why there is a general awareness that this opportunity cannot be missed. Budgets that have been carried over (and we have already had a few in recent years) would be an unforgivable collective failure. An economic impulse from the public sector is now widely felt to be imperative.

At this point, the pertinent question is whether the CUP is aware of this general state of opinion. To begin with, their gesture announcing an amendment to the totality but dragging out the negotiation with little motivation and setting conditions that go far beyond the budget itself seems more like looking for reasons to break off their support for the government than a desire to reach an agreement. In no case has the CUP conveyed the conviction that this budget is vital for the country. A message in which, on the other hand, the executive has been strong, both through its president, Pere Aragonès (ERC), and his minister of Economy, Jaume Giró (JxCat), who have shown great determination to get the budget passed, preferably with the anti-capitalists' support and, if not, seeking support among unionist parties. In this sense, the PSC and En Comú have also made their willingness to facilitate its approval in some way explicit. The two left-wing unionist parties could benefit: they could ensure the approval of the State budget (in their hands) and open a crack in the independence movement.

The next few days will be decisive to see, then, if the pro-independence majority, which so far has not been able to draw a shared roadmap – a cas in point is JxCat¡s absence from the negotiating table– at least manages to reach an understanding on a more peremptory but equally important issue, such as managing the way out of the crisis, or if, on the contrary, it consummates its division and the Catalan government becomes dependent on other forces for its effective continuity through the approval of the budget. The latter possibility would mean the entry of Catalan politics into a new framework of variable alliances. This would mark the end of a decade marked by the emergence and hegemony of the independence movement and its subsequent forced landing