Is a split on the cards?
Head Of PoliticsIn Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Angelina Jolie and Brat Pitt are a upper middle class marriage that hides a huge secret: they are both assassins and work for opposing sides. The situation is sustainable until the day that -you guessed it- they are assigned to kill each other and discover -surprise!- that their partner is at the same time the person who will make their lives impossible. Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Together for Catalonia (JxCat) discovered long ago that they were partners but also intimate enemies - as Oriol March and Joan Serra portray so well in their latest book - although this has not prevented them from continuing together, and even renewing their vows at the last minute in May.
The crisis over the Catalan delegates at the negotiating table is the latest example of this relationship and shows that neither sixty-eight different coordination spaces, nor a team-building weekend in La Garrotxa, nor a change in the people leading the Catalan government can change the dynamics. In little over 100 days in office, President Pere Aragonès has found that he is failing in one of his main objectives: to prevent the government from projecting the image of internal turmoil it offered on many occasions in its previous term.
Yesterday the head of the Catalan executive wanted to show strength by leaving JxCat out of the dialogue table if it did not propose councillors for its delegation, but it was not enough. Junts maintains its refusal even though this could undermine Aragonès' authority.
And, even so, yesterday both ERC and JxCat argued that the crisis would not jeopardise the government's unity. It is true that both can find advantages in JxCat's absence: ERC will be able to negotiate with the Spanish government with full autonomy; and JxCat will be able to disassociate itself even more easily from the table if it fails. However, the division between the two partners weakens the government's position at the gates of a negotiating table at which Pedro Sánchez arrived dragging his feet.
The inevitable question
Despite their differences, the question sources from both parties asked themselves was the same. Is a split on the cards? Does it make sense for an executive to be at odds over one of the pillars of its term? Can it continue governing if there is no common position around strategic debates like the airport either? Until February elections cannot be called again, and the current composition means it is unlikely ERC will attempt to govern alone. ERC and Junts will continue to coexist while they watch each other out of the corner of their eyes to make sure they are not being tripped up by their coalition partners.