Catalangate threatens a dozen negotiations between ERC and PSOE

The first test of fire will be next week in the Spanish Parliament with the vote on measures against the economic crisis

3 min
Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès entering the Moncloa.

BarcelonaWith the outbreak of Catalangate all eyes were focused on whether it was viable or not to continue with the dialogue table. But there are also a dozen negotiations between ERC and PSOE that are directly threatened by the espionage case. These negotiations only affect Catalan laws, Spanish laws and bilateral folders between governments, which if they were already complicated to unravel before the controversy, now even more so. The Spanish government has shown this Thursday to be aware of the situation and its spokesperson, Isabel Rodriguez, has offered to "increase the actions" in favour of dialogue to try to recover the Generalitat's "trust". Despite this, from Madrid, President Pere Aragonès has warned that he will not guarantee ERC support on anything.

The first bill which is under threat deals with the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine. ERC is not against the measures in themselves, but it has hinted that their support will only come if action is taken to investigate Catalangate scandal. Theoretically, the Spanish government could seek other allies to get the bill through, yet it has been relying on ERC's support since it was voted in. This bill would only be the first. The government is also working on a plethora of other laws on which it was hoping for ERC's support: the citizen security law (known as gag law), the democratic memory law, the audiovisual law, the housing law and the violence against women law. Each norm has its own casuistry, but Catalangate permeates everything, ERC sources explain.

Dialogue and language

Apart from these negotiations in Madrid, the Catalan government's agenda is also affected. The dialogue table, bilateral commissions and the reform of the linguistic policy law are all on the table. In the first two cases, Catalan government sources say it will all be brought to a standstill as long as PSOE does not budge. Although the strategy of dialogue has never been renounced, everything is "awaiting [Sánchez's] the response". The case of linguistic policy is different. Esquerra has shown so far it wants Socialists' votes to create as wide a consensus as possible, but reaching an agreement that also includes JxCat will not be easy. Finally, the negotiations for the 2023 budget have also been affected.

The role of the PSC

In all this web of threatened negotiations, the Catalan Socialists' Party (PSC) will have a role to play. The Catalan socialists are split between condemning espionage and support for the Spanish government. While calling for an investigation and explanations about Catalangate, it also defends that the Spanish government has nothing to do with it. "I believe in the word of the Spanish government. I have been there and I know how things are going," said Salvador Illa on Wednesday. Several party sources consider that the political consequences of the scandal will be limited: although they admit that the espionage is complicating the process of dialogue with both governments and that gestures will be necessary to rebuild trust, they also make it clear that "nothing will be broken". Among other reasons, because ERC knows that "there is no alternative" to the path initiated with the Spanish government. "Withdrawing support for the PSOE and letting the PP governing with Vox is a nightmare scenario for them," says a voice in the party.

In the PSC they see in the warnings of Aragonès to Pedro Sánchez the need to stage the party's discomfort and to protect itself from the pressure of JxCat, but there won't be any real consequences. And they consider that the calls to burn bridges by JxCat have to do with the party' one leadership contest, to be held in June.