November 29, 2022

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Social agents in Catalonia rush to hold elections to turn the page on a period they consider "failed"

FRANCESC VALLS

Barcelona 24 JAN 2021 – 00:28 CET

President Quim Torra, hours before learning of his disqualification. MASSIMILIANO MINOCRI

“It has been a beheaded legislature ahead and behind” said the regional minister of Presidency of Catalan Government, Meritxell Budó, when presenting last December the meager parliamentary balance 2017-2020. She attributed it to “state repression’, because the enforcement of Article 155 in 2017, and the disqualification of Quim Torra in 2020, among other things. But the truth is that, in these years of procés and pandemic, the quality of some laws passed has been a frequent cause of controversy, and in the political field has lacked strategic direction in the face of social challenges, in the opinion of the main employers and unions. Employers for the Promotion of National Work and employees of the Workers’ Commissions of Catalonia do not hesitate to describe the period that is now ending as a “failed legislature”. And both groups are in favor of holding immediate elections so that there are budgets as soon as possible.

“No government can function without unity, without a common and shared strategy among the partners”, said then-President Quim Torra on January 29 last year. A year after he himself acknowledged that the legislature had “no further course”, the date of the elections – February 14 or May 30 – is on hold. In this situation of provisionality and uncertainty, the great social challenges are presented, according to the opinion of the main employers’ association and the majority union in Catalonia. “The seriousness of postponing the elections is that we may not have a budget at least until 2022 at a time when the social gap is growing and companies continue to leave Catalonia”, say sources from Foment.

For the Secretary General of CCOO of Catalonia, Javier Pacheco, “this Government is the longest vestige of the application of article 155 of the Constitution, the one that has lived more exceptionalities, the least productive and the most ineffective that we have had in our country”. Thirteen approved bills and 75 validated decree-laws is the balance of this erratic legislature (the social agents point out) in which there has been a lack of strategy and there have been clashes over the hegemony of independence among government partners, Junts per Cats and ERC.

“They live in a bubble, in a world apart, as evidenced by the fact that in the midst of home confinement during the pandemic, with the ERTO on the agenda, in Parliament continue to pay per diems to MCPs”, said sources from Foment. The social costs of this failed legislature have been very high, say the employers’ organization. “There has been no agreement, no broad response has been sought”, said Pacheco, for whom the government has acted without a strategic proposal: “It has given answers in terms of reactive occurrences, without a proactive attitude”. “Until a couple of weeks ago, the sectorial boards were not set up”, says the general secretary of the Catalan CCOO. “They were already doing well with their advisers”, adds Pacheco. In short, there has been a lot of social discourse but little concretion.

And for the immediate future the picture is not encouraging. Without budgets, social agents ask, how will funds from the European Union be channeled? For the employers’ Fomento, the gap that has widened with the pandemic makes it more necessary than ever to have a new social pact that rebalances, as Germany and other European countries are doing, the relationship between labor and capital. And this is not the path that the Government of Catalonia has followed, say sources from Foment, for whom, with the increase in taxes – either in the regional segment of the state taxes or in their own autonomic taxes -, business divestment has been caused and it has acted to the detriment of the middle classes.

For the unions, the crisis makes it essential for the new government that emerges from the polls to increase spending on health, education and public employment generation. And this urgency makes it necessary, in their opinion, for the elections to be called as soon as possible. The government has had many months to prepare them properly and has not done so, both the employers’ organization and the unions agree to point out employers and unions.

From the point of view of the independence strategy, on the other hand, the progress has been practically imperceptible, point out sources from the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). The struggle for hegemony and mistrust among government partners have starred in the last period of a legislature that everyone agrees on as a beheaded one.

https://cat.elpais.com/cat/2021/01/24/catalunya/1611442997_802722.html

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