Stalled, despite ultimatums
Negotiations to form a government continue to run aground despite ERC's pressure on JxCat to speed up the agreement. This Saturday marked the expiry of the deadline which, in an interview with ARA, presidential candidate Pere Aragonès set before ERC raised "alternative options", such as a solo minority government. Recall that it was secretary general of JxCat, Jordi Sànchez, who floated this possibility, not ERC. But the fact is that ERC, despite setting deadlines in an attempt to push the negotiation forward, does not dare to play this card clearly.
The spokeswoman for ERC, Marta Vilalta, explained yesterday that the two meetings in Lledoners last week are a "turning point" in the negotiation, and therefore there is no reason to consider any other option than a coalition with JxCat. Even so, Vilalta did not clarify what this "turning point" consisted of, and JxCat flatly denied that there was one. It is true that the meeting between leaders of the two parties means that the culminating point of the talks has been reached (there was none before the first investiture debate), and that we are approaching the moment of make or break. Seen from the outside, however, from a society that is basically focused on the pandemic and on how the European funds will be used to rebuild the economy, the pace of negotiations is desperately slow. It is as if politics followed a different tempo from the rest of the world, as if they lived in parallel universes, untouched.
This is, in itself, bad news. So far word is that they will come to an agreement because "they have no other choice". But the reality is that so far no gesture has been seen that will facilitate an agreement, no gesture capable of giving a definitive push to the negotiation. Both remain firm in their position, waiting for the other to give in. Surely they both believe that they have the best cards in this poker game, and this is very dangerous, because it could end up causing an accident in the form of a repeat election.
Today there are exactly three weeks left until the legal deadline before the automatic call for elections. Accustomed in recent years to agonising negotiations, perhaps the most reasonable thing is to think that the agreement will come at the last minute, in extremis but it will come. But what is regrettable is the attempt to take advantage of the negotiation not to obtain the best agreement, but as part of a political strategy to wear down one's opponent, to prepare the ground for the next electoral dispute, to divide up the areas of influence like someone preparing for a game of Risk.
This is not what it should be. The country needs a solid government with leadership (and this now corresponds, because of the electoral results, to Pere Aragonés), which can face the political and economic challenges without having to look at their partner out of the corner of its eye. This government has to think big, to talk on equal terms with the Spanish government and the European institutions. It has to be a government, in short, and not bedlam.