Independence movement fails to find shared roadmap
ERC's, JxCat's and CUP's strategies do not indicate a return to unity in the new political year
BarcelonaThe political year 2021-2022, now over, was free of elections, and the three main pro-independence parties used this lull to rethink their respective roadmaps. Republican Left of Catalonia approved its new political strategy in March at a national conference; Together for Catalonia (JxCat) did so even more recently at its July congress. The People's Unity Candidacy (CUP) has not yet finished its congress, but, as advanced by ARA, its national secretariat is already working with a draft that gives a heavy hint of where they will be heading. Comparing all three proposals, the institutional independence movement does not give any sign of being able to resume a certain unitary course after the holidays. Neither in the field of the Independence bid, nor in the field of day-to-day politics.
When Aragonès was voted in president in May 2021, a new opportunity for cohesion was visualised: the three parties voted together and stated their goal of trying to rethink a joint proposal to redirect the political project. The deal, in short, was the following: JxCat and the CUP, despite being against ERC's negotiating strategy, gave the dialogue table a two-year margin and, in exchange, ERC committed themselves to think –alongside the rest– what the next assault would be like if negotiations failed. These two years, which expire in the spring of 2023, have not been respected, nor has any minimally shared strategy been devised in case a return to confrontation becomes necessary.
The differences are also acute on topics other than the Independence bid. While the term began with CUP as the Government's only partner in Parliament, now practically all ties have been broken. The anti-capitalist CUP rejects some of the Generalitat's flagship projects, such as the Winter Olympic Games, and have already made it clear that they will not negotiate the 2023 budget. Despite all the differences, Aragonès this Thursday was still optimistic about being able to finish his mandate in 2025. "What we need is a good government, that takes decisions, with the will to complete the coalition agreement's agenda," he told Catalunya Ràdio. The 2022-2023 political year will surely have its script twists, but the recovery of unity is unlikely to be one of them. Taking into account each roadmap, everyone has followed their path... alone.
Dialogue with the State has been the cornerstone of ERC's strategy since its pragmatic turn in 2018. "The best democratic confrontation is the negotiating table," reads its current policy paper. The table gave its first partial fruits a few days ago, and ERC feel reinforced in their strategy.
JxCat includes in its roadmap that the dialogue table is a "detrimental element". It considers that it has been a "demobilising" factor for the independence movement and that it has sent a "false" message to the outside world that the conflict is "on the way to its resolution". In addition, he regrets the lack of a "rapporteur" in the negotiation.
"The dialogue table is a dead end for self-determination and leads to autonomic stabilisation, and it is necessary that we dissociate ourselves completely". This is the position defended in CUP's draft. The commitment made to ERC to give it a certain margin until "the first half of 2023" seems to have vanished.
For ERC, the 2017 Referendum is a reason to be "proud", but everything that came thereafter is part of the "lessons learnt of what has to be improved". Thus, its proposal now is the demand for an agreed referendum in the Scottish style. And if it proves impossible? The paper speaks of seeking "democratic alternatives", but without much specificity.
For Borràs' party, the 2017 Referendum is a very valid "turning point", and a new referendum would only make sense if it is agreed with the State, which it sees as "impossible". And then what? It does not specify how to "culminate independence" beyond using the "institutional spaces" and the opportunities provided by the international scenario.
The CUP vindicates the 2017 Referendum because it was a great exercise of disobedience. Even so, it defends the call for another referendum this legislature, whether or not there is an agreement with the State. In short, another unilateral consultation. Its approach is to make it coincide with Scotland's, which will seek to vote again on October 19, 2023.
Aragonès's government considered the Winter Olympic Games one of its star projects. It does not believe a candidacy for 2030 is impossible and, if it fails, it is already thinking of 2034. As for the airport, the party was uncomfortable with the Spanish government's proposal due to the lack of environmental guarantees. Even so, he does not rule it out.
The defence of the Olympic Games has not meant any problems with ERC, in spite of the fact that the organisation of a consultation did originate some discrepancy. The extension of El Prat airport, on the other hand, shook the Government. JxCat reproached Aragonès for his lack of leadership, since it considers that he did not have a clear position.
The CUP is against all the great projects: Olympic Games, airport expansion, and BCN World casino and hotel complex, which they still do not believe has been fully discarded. None of the three has gone ahead for now, but the CUP consider that it is a major obstacle to maintaining any stable relationship with the Government.
A major priority for ERC is the governability of Catalonia to demonstrate solvency when it comes to management. The party believes this is a way to increase the number of supporters of independence and, also, to conserve the Presidency. "Independence has to be attractive also in the meantime to appear as a useful option in the day to day".
A part of JxCat already had doubts about whether it was appropriate to enter the coalition Government after the elections. And now some sectors are considering leaving the coalition, especially after Borràs's suspension. They believe that it would allow them to keep their own profile and recover electoral ground. The detractors, on the other hand, see giving up power as a mistake.
The CUP began the legislature by voting Aragonès in and, therefore, becoming the guarantors of the Catalan Government's stability. But it did not last long and they did not support him in his first budgets. Since then they have been distancing themselves from the executive and in their new roadmap they are already considering "an complete break" with the executive and initiating "a much more belligerent strategy".