Politics 16/09/2021

JxCat ups the ante: Artadi says Aragonès only represented ERC at the negotiating table

President Aragonès and vice president Puigneró discuss the crisis in a meeting at the Palau de la Generalitat

4 min
The two delegations at the dialogue table ascending the steps of Palau.

BarcelonaThe crisis between Together for Catalonia (JxCat) and Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) continues very much alive the day after the dialogue table. JxCat spokeswoman Elsa Artadi has affirmed in declarations to Ràdio 4 that at yesterday's meeting president Aragonès only represented his own party. "Yesterday it was a minority of the pro-independence movement who was at the table", Artadi said whens she was asked whether Aragonès, as president, represented all Catalans. She added that "he represents ERC". The crisis between the two parties started when the president, Pere Aragonès, left JxCat out of the dialogue table because they refused to name delegates who were also cabinet members, as he had requested. The meeting between governments is already history –the negotiation is not, it has only just restarted– but JxCat continues piling the pressure on, despite the fact that their Government ministers gave the green light to the agreement that named only ERC ministers as delegates at the negotiating table.

The government agreement between the two parties did not specify that the delegates at the negotiating table had to be cabinet members, although it did say they would have to "consensual". JxCat continues to denounce that it was Madrid which imposed a veto and "it hurts", in Jordi Turull's words on Tv3, that Aragonès accepted it. In addition, they criticise the meeting saying that "it will be even worse" than the one chaired by Quim Torra and that it is "more backward than two years ago", according to Artadi. JxCat, therefore, does not intend to rectify and maintains the names it proposed for the table, which, in practice, means that they are excluded. Aragonès has informed RAC1 that this morning he has called Jordi Puigneró to a meeting to inform him about the negotiating table and to manage the internal crisis, which as hours pass, far from waning, is festering. Aragonès has not yet spoken to JxCat about the meeting, although he did speak to ERC leader Oriol Junqueras after the meeting.

At the moment, all sides –including Aragonès, Artadi and Turull– dismiss the possibility of this crisis bringing down the government. "The government is working well, and it will do much better if everything goes well. I have confidence in all members of the executive," the president said. However, JxCat believes the negotiating table has been "greatly damaged". The party believes there is only one solution to the crisis: ERC backing down and accepting its delegates. "If Jordi Sànchez is good enough for him to sign the agreement to make him president, then he must be good enough to negotiate at his side with the State," Turull said, who has also defended his presence: he said that he has spent "all his life negotiating" and that he believed he could contribute things, but has regretted that he was not wanted.

Aragonès' response has not changed. Although he accepted that political prisoners must have "a role" in the negotiation, he reiterated that it is the Government which sits at the table and is keeping the door of the Catalan delegation open to JxCat cabinet members. On the other hand, JxCat believes that all of the pro-independence political space should be there, associations too. Turull has also criticised that a negotiation has been agreed without haste, pointing out that the repression is "very hasty". And the party whose support the stability of the Government depends on, the CUP, is also increasing the pressure. Eulàlia Reguant has affirmed that until now the negotiating table "only has been useful for ERC and JxCat to pick a fight" and added that while the pro-independence movement is "debilitated", Sánchez is reinforced. On the CUP's great weapon, which is the budgets, Reguant said that it would be"very bad news" for the country if CUP decides not to vote in favour of the budget because its political conditions are not met, and demanded ERC pushes for the measures agreed in the investiture deal.

Only meetings with agreements will be public

While reproaches continue between pro-independence supporters, details of Wednesday's meeting between governments are starting to be revealed. First, that from now on the contacts will be discreet and the meetings will only be made public when an agreement has to be announced. This has been assured by Aragonès, who added that in the meeting with Sánchez the political conflict was discussed above all. It is also known that in the subsequent meeting between Catalan and Spanish ministers did not go into specifics. The Catalan side, explained Félix Bolaños to RAC1, did bring up self-determination and amnesty, and the Spanish side reiterated that it is not constitutional. But Aragonès suggested this Thursday a way to make it possible in an interview in the New York Times: he said he wants to explore the possibility of creating regulations in Spain that would make it possible to legalise a referendum. "The important thing is that there is political will," he said. The president has also pointed out that the resolution of the conflict requires the end of the repression, and Sanchez "knows it perfectly well".

The negotiating dialogue at the Generalitat

Referendum and amnesty, however, will be difficult milestones to achieve. This Thursday the Minister for Culture and Sports and first secretary of the Catalan Socialists, Miquel Iceta, stated to RNE that it would be "naive" to think that the conditions are ripe to reach agreements that require a "great consensus", while on Tv3 he defended the idea of not establishing deadlines: "Fixing schedules does not always help, it adds unnecessary pressure and leads to serious mistakes". The Minister of Culture believes that "when there is trust between the parties, when there is a desire to move forward and nobody wants to drag their feet, it is not necessary to set dates". In turn, the Minister of the Presidency and coordinator of the dialogue table on the Spanish side has proclaimed: "the sovereigntist process is coming to an end".

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