The political scenario after the general election has also led to moves in the pro-independence movement. The Questions to the Catalan president, held this Wednesday in Parliament, made evident ERC’s and Junts’ willingness to address the opportunity the polls pose to them, despite the punishment they received.
Pere Aragonès repeatedly appealed for unity, but Junts also stressed that Sunday’s result gives them a position of strength and asked Aragonès if he is committed to a common pro-independence front in the Spanish Congress. Messages were also aimed at Madrid: Aragonès warned the PSOE it will need “a lot of bravery and political courage” if it wants to take advantage of the electoral results obtained on Sunday, but Junts also made clear they expect to listen to Pedro Sánchez’s proposals.
Throughout the Questions, Aragonès insisted on speaking at all times of the 14 seats won by the pro-independence movement, (seven seats for ERC and seven for Junts); he stressed that Catalonia “has stopped the right and the far-right” and, although he admitted the results are not good for the pro-independence movement, he warned they represent an opportunity and a responsibility for them. He stressed at all times that Pedro Sánchez is “the one who has the greatest share of responsibility”, and it is up to him to put proposals forward, but warned that “Catalonia must take advantage of it to make progress in resolving the political conflict” and for “other issues which need to be addressed, regarding health, education, public services and infrastructures”. We must take advantage of this opportunity, and we will take greater advantage of it if all of us who are indispensable work together. There are 14 pro-independence MPs who can work along these lines”, he reiterated.
Junts: an opportunity
On behalf of Junts per Catalunya, Albert Batet highlighted the effects of the division suffered by the pro-independence movement and referred to the loss of seats and votes after two years in which ERC followed a strategy of dialogue with the Spanish state which led to a break up with Junts in the Catalan government. “However, circumstances have placed us in an exceptional situation. Sunday’s results give us a position of strength. An opportunity that Junts will not shy away from in order to unblock the political conflict in Catalonia, which requires a political solution and a political agreement,” warned Batet. The Junts MP insisted they will be “faithful” to their commitments, and criticised the PSC, warning they will not engage in “messy manoeuvres on the sly or against the grain, such as what happened in the Barcelona City Council”. “We are standing in the elections to defend Catalonia, not to save the Spanish state and its governability. We believe this must be the approach of the pro-independence movement. However, we must wait and see whether the other side is willing to open political negotiations. It only depends on Pedro Sánchez”, warned Batet, insisting that the false dialogue of recent years has not worked, and asking Aragonès if he thinks a shared strategy is necessary to make a common front for Catalan independence in Madrid.
Picking up on Batet’s intervention, Aragonès insisted the message is that the Catalan independence must be understood and agreed upon in order to take advantage of the situation to resolve the political conflict, which implies negotiation. “If we start a dynamic which could sound like reproaches, it will certainly be much more difficult to achieve this common front. Therefore, let’s make it easy,” advised the Catalan president, who insisted that the 14 pro-independence MPs will only be decisive if they work together, and has pledged that the pro-independence proposal will include amnesty and self-determination.
Living up to the expectations
The Questions to the Catalan president focused almost exclusively on election results. In fact, the response to Salvador Illa, PSC’s First Secretary, whose speech focused on the fulfilment of the Catalan government’s budget, which the Socialists agreed to with ERC, ended up in the post-electoral scenario, after the Socialist leader considered the elections had become an “endorsement of consensus politics”.
Aragonès warned the socialist leader that the results entail a “great responsibility” because an answer must be given to the citizens’ will, which they expressed through the polls. He underlined they present an opportunity, but also risks, which is why he warned that now is the time for political courage and bravery for the PSOE, whom he demanded put “proposals on the table”, if they want to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the ballot boxes. Illa, who focused on the budget, ended his speech with “two wishes”: “That we all can live up to our responsibilities and the situation, and that, although there is still a lot of work to do, we all have a well-deserved rest this summer”.
The PP offers itself to Illa
The intervention of the Catalan People’s Party’s (PPC) leader, Alejandro Fernández, was quite different, and he addressed Socialist Salvador Illa directly, warning him they have a historic opportunity to put an end to the pro-independence process, now that they are receiving “more support than ever” in Catalonia. According to the PPC’s leader, the strategy should be “firstly, taking away [the pro-independence supporters’] influence in Madrid, instead of again giving them the key to government, and secondly, sending them to the opposition” with an alternative to Pere Aragonès’ government, led by Salvador Illa.
Produced in association with El Nacional En