Politics 06/09/2021

ERC warns Sánchez that if he does not back the dialogue table it will be "more difficult" negotiate budgets

Junts says Spanish president's presence and order of the day will determine whether it takes part

3 min
The deputy secretary general of ERC, Marta Vilalta, on Monday.

BarcelonaPedro Sánchez lack of clarity on whether or not he will attend the dialogue table and, therefore, on whether he will show whether he takes it seriously or not, is becoming a source of discomfort for ERC. There are ten days left before the meeting and the Spanish president continues without publicly clarifying whether he will be in Barcelona. This is why ERC has decided to take a step further in the pressure strategy and has warned Sánchez that if he does not decisively back this negotiating tool, ERC will rethink the predisposition they have shown so far to negotiating the State budget. And their thirteen votes in Congress could be key. "If the negotiating table is ignored, it is clear that it will be much more difficult to work to find other possible agreements in other negotiations," said deputy secretary general of ERC, Marta Vilalta. Among negotiations is, in fact, that of the Spanish public accounts.

ERC did not want to condition the dialogue table to the budgets to release pressure from the two negotiations. The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, said so in an interview with El Periódico at the beginning of July. Now, Esquerra does not want to establish that the two negotiations are strictly communicating vessels, but has ceased to dissociate them completely as it did two months ago. "They are parallel processes," Vilalta said, adding that each "has to follow its own path". But she pointed out, and this is where some alarms were raised, that for all negotiations to reach a successful conclusion it is "essential" that the "path of political negotiation is not closed and takes place". That is, that the dialogue table meets and works, that it does not become a simple photo and, moreover, without the presence of Pedro Sánchez.

On the other hand, the two Catalan parties involved in the negotiation, ERC and JxCat, are also unclear about who will attend. There is one exception: President Aragonès has decided to attend whether or not Sánchez is there. "The president will be there", Vilalta confirmed this Monday, who has again insisted that her party "would not understand" Sánchez's absence because it is his own "commitment". ERC claims it has a clear idea of who its delegates will be, but still hasn't made them public. ERC sources claim Aragonès wants the entire delegation to be formed by ministers, but that to make the final decision he wants to wait to discuss it with JxCat.

JxCat spokeswoman, Elsa Artadi, at a press conference after the party executive.

On the other hand, Junts spokeswoman Elsa Artadi has criticised the Spanish president for not clarifying whether he will finally attend the meeting. The party considers his presence for "essential". In her opinion, if he is not even attending the first meeting it will be an indicator of "underrating" the political conflict and a sign of the "little interest" the government has of resolving the situation with Catalonia.

In this sense, Artadi has said Junts delegates at the meeting are yet to be decided, and will depend on who the Spanish government sends. "We make our presence conditional to what will be discussed and who will be there", Artadi said. Junts sources complain that they have not been told of the content of next week's meeting. Without hiding her "scepticism", the Junts spokeswoman has remarked that the PSOE has not put forward any proposals and has regretted that Unidas Podemos, and in particular En Comú, no longer back a referendum on Independence.

While waiting to know the proposal the leader of En Comú, Jéssica Albiach, will make in parliament, Artadi has criticised the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, who this Monday on Tv3 ruled out an immediate referendum and assuring that "people are not up for all the silliness". Artadi, who is also leands Junts in Barcelona council, has regretted the mayor's tone and described her statements as "disappointing". "80% of the Catalan population" is in favour of the referendum, she said.

Who has also spoken out this Monday, in the midst of the debate on the dialogue table, has been the former president and leader of Junts, Carles Puigdemont. Through a letter to the members of the Council for the Republic, he proclaimed the "confrontation" with the State as an "inevitable reality" if independence is to be achieved, and has placed mobilisation as one of its key tools.

La Diada

With all these movements going on, ERC did say it wanted this year's Diada, the Catalan national holiday, to become a show of strength of the pro-independence movement, which will "channel" this strength "towards the negotiating table " of the following week. But it is not clear that this will be so, because part of the movement is against the meeting. This includes the ANC, which is organising of the demonstration on September 11. Be that as it may, the republicans are confident that there will be fair play. "It would be a mistake for someone to use the National holiday to have a go at fellow travellers," said Vilalta.