Independence movement questions credibility of espionage against Sánchez and Robles
ERC, Junts and CUP consider it a "smokescreen" to cover up the Catalangate scandal
BarcelonaTwo weeks after the outbreak of Catalangate, the independence movement does not quite believe that Spanish President Pedro Sanchez and Defence Minister Margarita Robles may have also been victims of espionage. "It is clear that it could be a smokescreen," said this Monday the president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras. A smokescreen, in his opinion, to cover up Catalangate and for the Spanish government to continue to not give explanations about the origin of espionage to the independence movement. This time there have been no nuances between sovereigntist parties: JxCat and the CUP have also questioned the credibility of the Spanish government's denunciation.
Speaker Laura Borràs pointed in the same direction considering that everything is a manoeuvre by the Spanish executive to change their perception "from executioners into victims". They are attempting to take Catalangate out of the spotlight so that only the spying on Sánchez and Robles is talked about. "It doesn't work," he concluded. CUP MP Albert Botran spoke in identical terms and claimed that it is an attempt to "divert attention abroad" and try to exculpate the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) of spying on the independence movement.
The Catalan government and the exiled organ Council for the Republic also reacted to the news. Neither Catalan president Pere Aragonès nor former president and Council leader Carles Puigdemont questioned the existence of spying against Sánchez and Robles, but highlighted the differences in the reaction to this news. Aragonès says the case is of "extreme gravity", but there is a "double standard" since now "there is great haste" to investigate and yet, in response to Catalangate, the independence movement has only been given "silences and excuses". Puigdemont claims the violation of Sánchez's and Robles's privacy is a "very serious crime" that deserves all his "solidarity", but at the same time he has reproached them for "not having done anything" to clarify Catalangate.
Catalangate has also strained ERC's strategy to try to solve the Catalan political conflict through negotiation with the State. This Monday Junqueras has defended that the strategy is not wrong, but has admitted that the main manifestation of this strategy, the dialogue table, could be "in danger". Thus, for him, "negotiation continues to be an effective tool", but now the conditions have become "very difficult" for the negotiating table to be convened. In short, ERC wants to maintain its negotiating strategy, but has to leave it on standby until the issue of espionage is clarified.
The same happens when the question is whether ERC will stop giving stability to the Socialists in the Spanish parliament and whether, as they did last Thursday, they will start voting against the decrees and laws proposed by the Spanish government systematically. It does not seem that ERC is too interested in turning 180 degrees, but they now have no incentive to continue offering support in the short term. "It will depend on what the Spanish government does [with Catalangate]," Junqueras said.