First attempt to rebuild unity reveals gulf between Aragonès and ANC

ANC proposes the reactivation of the UDI in "the second half of 2023"

2 min
Jordi Gaseni (AMI), Laura Vilagrà, Pere Aragonès, Xavier Antich (Òmnium Cultural) and Dolors Feliu (ANC).

BarcelonaThe first major move to try to overcome division within the pro-independence camp after the public disagreements on Catalonia Day took place this Tuesday at the Palau de la Generalitat and served mainly to confirm the gulf separating Catalan president Pere Aragonès's strategy from the Catalan National Assembly's (ANC). The head of the Government has summoned this campaigning organisation, alongside Òmnium Cultural and Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI), to rebuild bridges, but the impression is that it will not be easy to find common ground. The ANC went to the meeting with a proposal under its arm: "making independence effective" in the second half of 2023, an idea that has been automatically dismissed by Aragonès. "The conditions do not exist to move forward with such a proposal, and everybody knows this," said Presidency minister Laura Vilagrà.

The afternoon had already started in a peculiar way. Half an hour before the scheduled time for her meeting with president Aragonès, ANC leader Dolors Feliu called a press conference to explain her proposal of lifting the suspension of the 2017 Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in the second half of 2023. Why in the second half of 2023? She argued that this would take advantage of Spain's "international visibility" due to it holding the rotating presidency of the European Union at that time. The million-dollar question, however, remains unanswered. How to do it? Feliu has limited herself to outlining that it has to be a combined action between "the institutions and the mobilised people", but without going into details. In spite of this time limit set by the ANC, the Catalan government will not have a year's margin to mull it over, since the ANC wants all three pro-independence parties in the Catalan Parliament to approve a resolution supporting this thesis in the general policy debate at the end of the month. According to Feliu, the ANC is backed by the "success" of the Catalonia Day demonstration. When leaving the meeting, disappointed, she criticised the president's "immobilism". Òmnium and the AMI, on the other hand, preferred not to make any statements.

The Catalan Government has avoided entering into a new clash with the ANC, since today the objective was to "listen" to different proposals in a "positive" environment. However, at the end of the two-hour meeting, Vilagrà dismissed any possibility of backing the ANC's proposal. "The objective is to achieve independence, but we do not work with desires", she stated.

Generalitat sources say this Tuesday' meeting was an initiative president Aragonès came up with the day after Catalonia Day. They assure that in no case is Aragonès thinking of amending his current strategy on the national question –based on seeking a referendum and amnesty through dialogue with the State– but that he wanted to listen to all the proposals. The same sources claim that today "there is only one" proposal on the table, the president's, since they consider that the supporters of the unilateralist positions have not explained how they would be carried out.

They also wanted to give an image of a certain unity after the disunion on Catalonia Day. "The image of one pitted against the other has to end", a Generalitat source says. Despite this predisposition, the Government itself has made it clear that it cannot endorse either of the ANC's two proposals: neither that of reactivating independence unilaterally without a plan, nor calling elections.