What does “beginning of the year” mean? That question has largely marked Catalan politics in these first four months of 2022. The PSC, En Como Podem and ERC are located in the context of that uncertain – but not infinite – second meeting of the dialogue table between the government and the Generalitat to address the nationalist claim in the postprocess. The first quarter of the year has already been decided, it is untenable to continue talking about the beginning of the year. After the first meeting between Presidents Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonese in Barcelona in September 2021, successive waves of the pandemic prevented the appointment to be rescheduled. Now, the new obstacle is that the central executive must focus on the war in Ukraine and its social and economic consequences in Spain.
In the ERC they understand the situation, but they demand this bilateral forum – in which the Generalitat requests an apology for “retaliation”. Process Another self-determination referendum of 2017 and the government opposes the so-called reunification agenda – don’t fall into oblivion. Meanwhile, fluid contact on other issues continues, as in the case of the application of the decision that requires 25% of Spanish to be taught in Catalan classrooms.
“It is true that Ukraine has put itself in the middle and that probably means there are other priorities. But believe me, if it’s not within a week [la reunión de la mesa]It will happen in two, three or four”, PSC spokeswoman Alicia Romero assured in an interview with Rdio 4.
The ERC, which is already in open conflict with its ally in the government, the Junts, continues to send messages pointing to the dialogue. This is the political oxygen facing the wider side of the party of fugitive Carles Puigdemont, which does not stop emphasizing Pedro Sánchez’s failure to align with the executive’s independence interests. Oriol Junqueres (ERC) shrugged off those criticisms during his party’s national council on Saturday. “Spreading the seed of defeat does nothing for victory,” he said.
In the first quarter, Republicans have hit three reasons (or excuses, depending on who’s speaking) for not bringing the table together. In December, Sánchez argued the need to attend the sixth wave of the pandemic, and in fact, postponed the presidents’ conference held in La Palma. Later, the PSOE pressured to avoid photos before the autonomous elections of Castilla y León. The ERC then lamented the “partisanship” of the head of government. In the background, it also weighed in on the fact that no relevant agreement was closed in the deliberative meetings they committed to in September. Only Sanchez had his own promise that the meeting would take place at some point.
And this is where the war broke out. In government they affirm that the president is focused on minimizing the impact on the economy. In the direction of the ERC, they want Sanchez to make a place for himself in European politics. The feeling that spreads is that the union will be done for begging. ERC spokesman, Marta Villalta, has been warning for weeks: “If the state’s commitment is not to find a solution through dialogue, then obviously we will have to reconsider our support for the government.”
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At the moment, the ERC closes ranks in Congress with the economic measures of the executive. In the Republican leadership they acknowledge the moment is grim, with 13,642 people arriving from Ukraine in Catalonia alone in less than a month. After much criticism of the Presidents’ Conference in La Palma on March 13, Aragones himself shrugged off his disdain and ended up attending.
The three months of “the beginning of the year” have been a fertile place for junts to remind their companions of the government’s violation of that commitment practically every day. Since the start of the year, in five control sessions in the Aragones, the leader of the Junts, Albert Bette, has used his speech to remind them. Additionally, the process of electing a new party leadership at the June Congress does not seem like a favorable moment to change positions towards a platform agreed upon by the PSOE and ERC and in which the Junts refused to participate.
Both governments confirm that talks are continuing in the background, though not at the desired pace. Thus, in Catalan education there is a certain coherence on how to respond to the decision on 25% of teaching hours in Spanish. The government was aware of the legislative backlash brewing in Parliament. The Generalitat has sent this proposal to the Superior Court of Catalonia to explain that it can consider completing the sentence with it, but has not yet responded.