New legislature
Politics 17/09/2021

Immediate challenges that will test government unity

The coalition has to overcome the general policy debate and the budgets

2 min
Government working day in La Vall d'en Bas

BarcelonaThe new Government's first major crisis, only one hundred days into its term, comes before three key dates in the political year: the development of the government plan, the general policy debate in Parliament and the presentation of the 2022 budget. The negotiating table has once again revealed differences between Esquerra and Junts, this time over the composition of the Generalitat's delegation and the agenda which should be addressed, but the coalition partners expect this will not affect governability for now. The question is whether they will succeed.

For weeks councillors have been working on the elaboration of the government plan, which has to include the big projects of each department for this term. They discussed the master lines in their team-builing weekend in the Vall d'en Bas (Garrotxa), which was designed to iron out the differences between the parties. Nevertheless, they failed not to avoid the clashes over the extension of El Prat airport and over the negotiating table. It remains to be seen whether the coalition plan incorporates any of these two controversial issues or whether it tiptoes around them so as not to tear the alliance between the two major pro-independence parties apart. It ought to be published next week, since the Government aims to make its general goals known before the general policy debate, which is scheduled for the 28th, 29th and 30th of September.

It will be in this session that Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Together for Catalonia (JxCat) will measure their unity before the opposition. The first issue to be analysed will be the joint resolution proposals. In the legislature agreement, at least one declaration to the chamber was foreseen: to promote within the parliamentary framework an "acknowledgement and validation of the beginning of the negotiation process and to constitute a commission with the objective of following up, accounting for and hearing expert appearances on negotiation processes". With JxCat excluded from the talks –they have been "sceptical" from the first moment– and the CUP against it –it even organised a demonstration against the talks–, it seems complicated that ERC can receive the backing of the pro-independence majority in the terms in which it agreed with Pedro Sánchez: with no deadlines nor a set calendar of meetings. In this sense, it remains to be seen if, shoould ERC present the motion regardless, they would receive the support of the parties present at the talks on the Spanish side of the table, the Socialists and Podemos.

ERC and JxCat will also deal with more specific issues, in which they also clash. JxCat is in favour of seeking to expand El Prat airport – which Sanchez and Aragonès abandoned on Thursday – and also the promotion of the candidacy for the Winter Olympics. ERC has supported both projects from the Government, but is reluctant to get too involved.

After the general policy debate, to focus will be on the 2022 budget. The Catalan minister of Economy, Jaume Giró, has been working for weeks with the departments to draft the accounts, where the tug of war is not so much to do with political allegiances as with the fact that each minister demands more money for their department. The deadline to finish this discussion at the executive council and present the project in Parliament is October 10. Giró's first challenge is to be the first councillor in recent years to meet the legal deadline, and the second is to find a partner who will back them, after the CUP started distancing itself.

Despite Puigneró and Aragonès's efforts to get back on track, new obstacles lie ahead.