Toni Bolaño, 18 April 2021
Pere Aragonès, acting president of the Generalitat, during an act of ERC, his party / EFE
There are few optimistic chronicles about the formation of the new Catalan government. Nor will this one be. Although, at this stage, it is an oxymoron to speak of a Catalan government. We have one in office that is dealing with the worst crisis without taking measures beyond the merely technical, disunited and with constant confrontations. The one that is to arrive does not seem to be in better health.
Pere Aragonès is still trying to do a showroom with Carles Puigdemont, Jordi Sànchez and Laura Borràs, trying to find out who is Junts per Catalunya’s interlocutor. According to Aragonès, the talks have been very fruitful. So much so that Junts per Catalunya has not even answered the Republicans’ last proposal. There is no talk of policies to get out of the crisis, measures to promote the economy, European funds, social policies? They are not talking about that, they are talking about the monotheme of what is the best strategy to achieve the ultimate goal: independence. Whether to wait to broaden the base, as ERC’s argument claims, or whether to widen the gap with the state, as JxCat’s argument claims. And there is talk of who is in charge. Whether it is the president of the Generalitat who is elected in the investiture or the “legitimate president” who resides in Waterloo.
The congress of Puigdemont’s party has been postponed to 7 and 8 May, narrowing the margin a little more, because until it is decided who is in charge, no decisions will be made, beyond putting pressure on ERC. In Junts there are those who are committed to leaving ERC to govern alone, those who advocate a new coalition government redefined in terms of competences, and those who want a repeat election. Aragonès does not seem to realise that, in any of these three scenarios, ERC will suffer and he will be a weak and fragile president, having to deal with a complex economic situation, with the pandemic still raging, under daily harassment and demolition with the demand for progress towards independence; and with constant erosion in economic and social matters. ERC talks of a shift to the left in Catalonia, and as a sign it wants to make a pact with Junts per Catalunya, the lifelong right. Really?
Aragonès seems to be set on failure. He knows that the legislature with Junts has zero chance. That is, if he is not dumped at the last moment. Moreover, every day that goes by in the PSC the feeling of weariness increases. Moreover, the socialists do not intend to be the lifeline of a government that, instead of seeking spaces for dialogue and debate, is stuck on what is the role of the Consell per la República. They do not think so because Aragonès, beyond fine words, has not opened this door. Nor has he opened the door to the Comuns. A negotiating error that Junts is taking advantage of.
It is losing precious time to build an alternative government that is far from a tumult that is guaranteed, with repeated melees, if in the end it governs only depending on Junts in Parliament or governs in coalition with the enemy at home. The progress of the negotiations is far from building a relationship of complicity between the partners, and depending on which option prevails in Junts, within the formation, they will continue with their guerrilla war to overcome quarrels and achieve quotas of power.
It all started badly with the election of Borràs, will continue to get worse with the election of Madaula, and will end from bad to worse with a Government looking in the rear-view mirror at Waterloo and trying to implement a road map – I hope Aragonés has one – with its allies dynamiting government action every day. I think ERC is aware of all this. The question is why they continue along this path, why they have allowed themselves to win the initiative. If it is because they are insulted and labelled as botiflers, they already know that. Those who do it have been repeating it for a long time. Isn’t it about broadening the base? Then govern, because four years in the opposition will give more than one member of the party to think about. Aragonès sees it, but he has become the new Empecinado.
The Empecinado was a Spanish military man who put the French and absolutist troops in check. As a good liberal, he swore an oath to the Constitution of Cadiz and defended it against King Ferdinand VII. He was exiled at the end of the Liberal Triennium and took advantage of the amnesty to return to his homeland. The King ordered him to be killed even though he was given permission to return to Spain. That was how the soldier ended up in the hands of what he assumed at the time was not his enemy. He was slow to react. Aragonès should take note.