JxCat holds Aragonès responsible for outcome of budget vote

Catalan government intends to continue negotiating with CUP even if it decides to present an amendment to the budget

3 min
Image of the executive of Juntos during the meeting to the World Santo Benet (Bages)

Barcelona / Sant Fruitós de BagesJxCat remembers a series of events from five years ago, when Carles Puigdemont was president of the Generalitat, Oriol Junqueras Minister of Economy and anti-capitalist CUP was already a priority partner for the approval of the budgets. CUP decided to block the budget and did not budge from its opposition to the Government until Puigdemont promised to hold the 2017 Independence referendum. Now, with a ERC president and CUP again seeking to hold up the budget, Junts wants Pere Aragonès to be "responsible" for the negotiation of the budgets: it considers that it is he who has to put on the table a "direction" for the legislature and "progress" towards independence that convinces the anti-capitalist left.

Junts spokeswoman Elsa Artadi has asked the president to participate in the negotiations because the CUP's discomfort goes beyond the budget; it also relates to the ERC-CUP deal for Aragonès's investiture. "It is everybody's responsibility, but especially the president's, to take care, to work and to ensure that deals are respected", she said, after stating that the Catalan minister of Economy, Jaume Giró, has done "a very good" job. Sources close to the president, however, state that he has been involved in the negotiations from the outset. They add that it will be the decision the CUP will announce this Tuesday which will mark whether he gets more involved or not. But what does JxCat expect Aragonès to put on the table? Artadi has not given any details and, in fact, there is no shared view on the Independence bid among the three parties. ERC and JxCat, for example, opposed the proposal of the CUP's to hold a unilateral referendum before the next elections.

ERC spokeswoman Marta Vilalta this Monday in press conference.

Nevertheless, both ERC and JxCat want to continue negotiating with CUP. The spokeswoman for ERC, Marta Vilalta, reiterated at a press conference their "unwavering will" to move get the budget passed with CUP's support: "It has not changed and it will not change," she said. Artadi, on behald of JxCat, said that they "only consider approving the budgets with the pro-independence parties' support".

Negotiation limit

The government's prioritisation of CUP despite the CUP's current opposition will mean delays. At the moment, CUP is consulting its rank and file on whether to present an amendment to the totality of the budget and, if so, whether to continue negotiating with the Government. The situation may lead to another negotiation to the limit in Catalan politics: the executive will be trying to obtain the support of CUP until the last minute. If this fails, it will have to seek alternative partners (the PSC and En Comú have offered) to avoid Catalonia not having a budget for 2022.

Catalan Finance Minister Jaume Giró

Catalan Finance Minister Jaume Giró called on all parliamentary groups to be "responsible" and avoid an extension of the 2020 budget. "We cannot afford to continue in a state of provisionality," he said, and has appealed not only to CUP but to the entire house: "Catalonia needs a budget, and this is the budget Catalonia needs." "I am convinced that you will not prevent its approval," he concluded. The CUP, however, has once again shown its misgivings. Spokeswoman Eulàlia Reguant has questioned even whether they are expansive budgets, despite the fact that they increase spending by over €5bn thanks to European funds. "It is cheating", she said, in allusion to funds coming from Europe, and has recalled that "the proportion of €3 out of every €4 to be spent on social policies already was foreseen in 2020 budgets". Reguant, who also regretted that there is no new tax on high earners, recalled that the executive has not changed its commitment to large projects such as Barcelona World and the Olympic Winter Games.

Amid this tug of war, the PSC has again shown itself willing to facilitate the processing of the budget and has urged the Government to "pick up the phone and to set a date" to close a deal. So have En Comú, although unlike the socialists – who offer their support for "free" – have urged the government to sit down and negotiate with them so the budget incorporates "enough social demands". If their expectations are not met, En Comú has said they will present an amendment to the totality. The Government, however, is confident that CUP's decision will not burn bridges or force it to seek other partners.