Aragonès does not convince his partners nor the Spanish government

JxCat, CUP and ANC reproach him over yesterday's conference and Sánchez denies that dialogue is not making progress

4 min
Pere Aragonès and Jordi Sànchez on the day they presented the government agreement.

Barcelona / MadridParts of the independence movement felt discomfort at the very least after Catalan president Pere Aragonès's conference yesterday, which aimed to recover the movement's unity of action. JxCat agreed with the call for unity launched by the president, but reproached him for not sharing the content of the speech previously –which the president's office denies–, that he did not make specifics about his roadmap towards independence and that he made no references to the 2017 Independence Referendum. The party also interprets that Aragonès linked exile and pardons to negotiation with the State. Neither the pro-independence organisation ANC nor anticapitalists CUP were any more satisfied, but rather the opposite. In addition, the Spanish government has reacted coldly and still has not announced the date of the next meeting of the dialogue table, despite repeated requests from the president.

JxCat has shown its disagreement with Aragonès most vehemently, despite being his partners in the coalition government. Speaking to Catalunya Ràdio, its secretary general, Jordi Sànchez, has shown himself "surprised" by the reference that the president made to pardons, which he defined as "an indispensable step to give confidence and offer credit to the negotiating will of the State". "At no time neither I personally nor any of us who were in Lledoners [prison] understood that the pardons were the result of any political negotiation," said Sànchez, who has demanded "explanations" from ERC to clarify whether the measure of grace was part of a deal with the Spanish government.

If this point merely caused "surprise", Sànchez was clear he disliked the fact that Aragonès asked the Spanish government –in what was intended to be a gesture of complicity with JxCat– to work to bury the court cases against former president Carles Puigdemont and the rest of exiles. This was backed by former president and exile Puigdemont, who asked for "respect for the political strategy of exile". The ANC has added fuel to the fire by criticising the request for a solution similar to pardons for exiles because this means "giving up one of the most successful elements of confrontation so far". The ANC has already warned that it will not participate in the unity of action and mobilisation around Aragonès' strategy.

Puigneró, Aragonès and Vilagrà on their way to the cabinet meeting the day after the conference.

The president proposed on Monday to activate "all mechanisms of pressure" against the State with the objective that it accepts a referendum and amnesty, although he did not go into specifics. The CUP has complained about this. MP Dolors Sabater remarked that Aragonès "did not say anything that makes us think that things will change" and, according to her, it showed that we are in "paralysis": "We are at the same point as a year ago. We need more deeds and less words". If the conference wanted to be an ode to unity, so far the effect has been quite the opposite. The most explicit has been Sànchez, who has admitted that in terms of unity "I do not know if we have reached rock bottom, but we are getting closer".

The reactions to the conference have been received with feelings of resignation in the Palau de la Generalitat. Government spokeswoman Patrícia Plaja has assured that they respect all positions, but has regretted that everything is "criticisms and reproaches" when it is precisely what Aragonès intends to leave behind. She did want to amend JxCat on two issues: the first is that Plaja recalled that Aragonès "at no time said" that the pardons had been the subject of negotiation with the State. She also pointed out that both Jordi Sànchez and vice president Jordi Puigneró knew the "main axes" of the content of the conference in advance, since the president himself had told them.

ERC has come out to defend Aragonès, with snide remarks about their coalition partners. Its leader in Madrid, Gabriel Rufián, vindicated the president's pragmatism as opposed to JxCat. "It is good that politics prevails, because magic is great for theatres and tarot". Reproaches, then, there have been flying in all directions.

Cold in Madrid

Meanwhile, the reaction from the Spanish government has not been much warmer. The Spanish government spokeswoman, Isabel Rodríguez, has confirmed that the dialogue table "still has no date" and has refused to answer the accusation of "lack of courage" that Aragonès made against Pedro Sánchez. On the contrary, Rodriguez has highlighted the normalisation of relations with the Generalitat, citing as an example the Bilateral Commission that will meet this Friday. The Spanish president from has said that dialogue is "advancing" and has made his contribution to the spiral of reproaches of the day: "Independentism is a political theory that represents the twentieth century or the nineteenth century".

On the other hand, Moncloa sources assessed positively President Aragonès's announcement that he would initiate a process of internal dialogue with the Catalan political agents, but they want to see what it comes to. "What the PSC is asking for is a table where everyone is present, not only bilateral contacts, because we already have that now", these sources have specified. Neither the PSC nor En Comú have had kind words for the president, but they will meet with him this week. In the absence of something that could resemble unity or the unblocking of dialogue, the president will continue with his round of contacts with parties and organisations to try to strengthen the consensus he considers there is in Catalonia