It is now time to approve the budget
BarcelonaThe general policy debate, which ends this Thursday with the vote on the motions for resolutions, has left clear clues as to what future lies ahead for this term. First of all, it has become clear that the president, Pere Aragonès, does not intend to move one millimetre away from his commitment to explore dialogue with the State through the negotiating table despite the pressure from his coalition partners JxCat and CUP. The latter, who were quick to reach an agreement with ERC for the investiture, now seem uncomfortable in their role as preferred partner and intend to raise the price of their support for the budget with a proposal that was not included in that pact: holding a new unilateral referendum before the next elections. Aragonès, however, rejected a proposal that would contradict his commitment to dialogue.
Precisely, experts in complex negotiations consulted by ARA warned that the key to the success of the process is to create a climate of trust between the two parties. And this climate would be blown to bits if Aragonès were to set a date for a new referendum. Neither does JxCat seem to have much interest in seconding the CUP's proposal, among other reasons because it already held a unilateral referendum on 1 October 2017. The CUP insists on bringing to the plenary resolutions that may be challenged by unionist parties and could lead to the disqualification of the parliamentary bureau, while the other pro-independence parties seem to have opted for the pragmatism of not endangering the institutions. For all these reasons, and in spite of the efforts of the Catalan Minister of Economy, the possibility that the CUP will support the budget is increasingly distant. And this despite one of the main stumbling blocks, which was the expansion of El Prat airport, having been thrown out, as well as this being an expansive budget with social measures such as more free childcare.
If this possibility is confirmed, president Aragonès and minister Giró will have a problem. The only option left to them will be to negotiate them with Socialists. And it is not clear that the independence movement is mature enough for this sort of deal, and more so after hearing yesterday JxCat spokeswoman Miríam Nogueras speak in the Spanish parliament. She made it clear that JxCat has no intention even to negotiate the State budgets with the Socialists.
The Catalan government, then, runs the risk of again suffering paralysis and deadlock when passing expansive budgets, precisely at a time when they are more necessary than ever to cope with the post-pandemic reconstruction. The three parties that voted Aragonès in (ERC, Junts and the CUP) ought to be able to put aside tacticism and ensure their approval. Both Junts and the CUP endorsed, in the investiture agreement, ERC's commitment to the negotiating table for the next two years. There will be time to evaluate its results and listen to President Aragonès when he faces the motion of confidence in two years' time. To derail it now would be, in addition to irresponsible, going back on one's word.