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Home » Content » A turbulent spring in Europe, Spain and Catalonia
The clashes between pro-independence sectors to elect a new ‘president’ and the Madrid elections generate even more uncertainty

Joan Tapia 27/3/2021

President of the Editorial Committee of EL PERIÓDICO

Pere Aragonès, upon his arrival in Parliament for the investiture debate. / EFE / ENRIC FONTCUBERTA

On Monday, Angela Merkel withdrew the restrictive measures for Easter that she had just agreed with the presidents of the ‘länder’. Germany has (or had) stability, strong leadership, and conformed citizens. But the delay in vaccination, due to lack of supplies, which is the fault of the Brussels Commission and which has not occurred in Britain or the United States, plus the fatigue of the continuous restrictions, is generating bad humor. That is why Merkel has backed down.

In fact Merkel is already what in America is called a “lame duck”, which describes the waning power of a president in the final stage of her last term. As she leaves, she already has less authority. And after the two regional elections in March, the possibility has increased that the federal elections in September will give way in Berlin to the so-called “traffic light coalition”, of the greens, the social democratic “red” of the SPD and the yellow of the liberal FDP. It would be another Germany … Maybe another Europe as well.

A manager as ‘president’

Here, this European (not just German) grumpiness is compounded by growing political instability. On Friday, the candidate to preside over the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, from ERC, lost the first investiture vote because JxCat, his partners from the last legislature, abstained. And they made it clear that they could repeat it in the second vote if ERC does not give in. They want Puigdemont, from the ghostly Council for the Republic of Waterloo, to have the last word on the negotiation with Madrid. Aragonès would thus be only a managing president of the Generalitat, which will be difficult for ERC to accept.

ERC said ‘no’, from the outset, to a very difficult transversal pact with the Comuns and the PSC, and now it is watching with horror how JxCat obstructs the investiture. And only Puigdemont knows how long the struggle will last. There may be a deal before Tuesday’s session, but it doesn’t seem likely. And thus an uncertain period would open that could last until May 26. And, if this situation continues without an agreement, it would lead to an electoral repetition in July. JxCat may believe that it would then beat ERC, as only one seat separated them.

Spanish uncertainty

And the Catalan paralysis aggravates the Spanish uncertainty. It is not already that the PSOE-Podemos government, without a majority, has cracks, but that the failure of Cs and the PSOE in trying to snatch the Government of Murcia from the PP has generated even more unknowns after the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, kicked Cs out of her government and call elections for May 4.

The first consequence has been that Pablo Iglesias has left a government in which he did not feel comfortable with the excuse, true, that Podemos could be left out of the Madrid Assembly. Iglesias will get more than 5% of the votes, but he may be behind Más País and Ángel Gabilondo’s PSOE. What will Iglesias do then as spokesman for a secondary group in the Madrid Parliament? Nothing that favors stability.

One step back

Let’s go to the PP. If Cs manages to surpass – due to the personality of Edmundo Bal – 5% and has seats, it is possible that Díaz Ayuso will depend on Vox and Cs. Demon situation. And if she only depends on Vox, its demands for a coalition government will be a problem.

If Ayuso fails, the PP (and Casado) will have taken a step back. And if she succeeds, Casado may have had an internal alternative. And the PP may be tempted to unite all the votes (and parties) to the right of the PSOE. The Aznar plan to return to La Moncloa?

The PSOE lost the battle of Murcia (as Cs) and now it has little to gain, except if Gabilondo reissues his 2019 victory. Difficult, because Pablo Iglesias generates a fear (of more taxes) that can take refuge in Ayuso. That is why Gabilondo is already taking distances.

Dangerous moments

We don’t know how Catalunya will end. Well, not. And it is not clear who will benefit from the new battle in Madrid, which Ayuso wants to propose as a rehearsal for the next general elections. What it does seem is that we will have a spring with many surprises. Just the opposite of what is convenient and reasonable in dangerous times for health and the economy.

And as a haunting backdrop, only the new interference from the German Constitutional Court on European recovery funds was missing.




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