Politics 19/02/2021

First meeting between ERC and JxCat to string together the investiture

ERC warn that Borràs's indictment is a "stumbling block" and the legislature will not seek unilateralism

3 min
The deputy secretary general of ERC, Marta Vilalta, on Monday.
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Esquerra and Junts per Catalunya have met today to agree on the investiture of current vice president Pere Aragonès, as ARA has found out and the parties have later confirmed in a statement. Both government partners have assessed the first meeting after the elections as very "positive", stressing the value of pro-independence parties' absolute majority in votes and seats.

The current government partners have met this Friday as part of the round of contacts for the formation of a new executive, which already began on Wednesday, when ERC met CUP. ERC decided to begin meetings with CUP to emphasise the rise in left-wing independentism and maintains its willingness to include En Comú to the talks. Junts, in turn, is hoping to govern only with pro-independence forces and apply the "mandate" of the absolute majority in favor of the Catalan republic.

The two parties have appointed their negotiating teams this week in order to agree on the outline of the new executive as soon as possible. However, what is certain is that there are differences in the strategy on how the Independence bid has to continue (between ERC and CUP) and the entire current government structure will have to be reviewed. In fact, the context also hinders the negotiation: the response of the Mossos d'Esquadra to the mobilisation to demand the freedom of rapper Hasél has led the CUP to increase its demands in exchange for support of Aragonès's investiture.

The meeting comes after ERC has made it clear this Friday that it does not back a unilateral path to independence, despite the fact that pro-independence parties have obtained over 50% of the votes for the first time. Deputy secretary general of ERC, Marta Vilalta, said as much in an interview with RTVE. "This is not a government to return to unilateralism," said Vilalta, who has considered that it has to be a legislature of dialogue. "From the ballot box the idea of the referendum and the negotiation with the State comes out reinforced," she concluded.

The ERC leader said she does not believe that this approach will hinder talks with JxCat: "We believe that they will agree to the path of negotiation, because ex president Torra [of JxCat] was at the negotiating table with representatives from his party". In this sense, Vilalta has warned that for ERC the negotiating table will be "a priority". "The negotiation has to be stretched and taken to the limit," she added, thus showing the commitment of her party to resume dialogue with the State.

On the disagreements with JxCat of the last legislature, Vilalta has said that ERC's leadership "can change things", but has admitted that "we must rebuild trust and rebuild the basics". She has also acknowledged that Laura Borràs's indictment can be "a stumbling block" in the negotiations to form a new government, since, as she has remarked, it "complicates" them, and has taken for granted that this issue will be present in the talks. "We will see how the negotiations progress, but today we want to maintain discretion," she said, when asked again about this issue. She has also opened the door to Parliament's Speaker not being a member JxCat, as would follow from the relation of forces and previous agreements. "We would like there to be more players, but there is no doubt that JxCat has to have an important weight". Vilalta stressed, nevertheless, that "this is not about positions but policies".

The deputy secretary general of ERC has downplayed the fact of having started talks first with the CUP and not with JxCat: "With JxCat we have a daily dialogue and the CUP is key to have the pro-independence majority due to its increase in votes". Vilalta added that it also highlight the turn to the left. She has ruled out the option suggested by Unidas Podemos spokesman in the Spanish Parliament, Jaume Asens, of a Government of ERC and En Comú with the abstention of the socialists. "It is neither ERC's goal nor priority, and we discard it completely," she said, before reiterating that they are committed to a broad executive that includes all pro-referendum parties. She gave the example of the approval of the budget, which had the support of En Comú. "We want a broad government that represents the [Declaration of Independence on] 3 Oct," she concluded.

Reviewing the police model in Parliament

In the interview, Vilalta has also said that she shares the JxCat and the CUP's view that the police model has to be changed. "It has to be reviewed, but we cannot leave the corps without instruments," she said, before saying that it has to be discussed in Parliament. "It is the place where it should be discussed", she has argued. She has also avoided asking for the resignation of the Catalan Minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Sàmper, as the CUP has done after the police action during the protests against the imprisonment of singer Pablo Hasél. "Those who have acted inadequately will have to take responsibilities for their specific performance," she said.

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