LOLA GARCÍA Deputy director La Vanguardia
Puigdemont and Artadi, in an event of Junts per Catalunya (Twitter / JxCat)
The Voloh operation intended to investigate possible diversions of funds from the Barcelona Provincial Council, but it has become a fan that airs little edifying conversations between some protagonists of the procés, of whom their patriotic version was better known. Both in JxCat and in ERC they are convinced that these investigations will not reach port, but that does not mean that their pellets do not arouse concern in both parties, since they contribute to the discrediting of very influential people in political events in Catalonia in recent years.
The Government has discussed the scope of these investigations to conclude that it is a new operation of the State to discredit the independence movement. It is suspicious that conversations that have no criminal relevance are being diffused, although they are succulent for political gossip. So there are not a few who attribute the disclosure of the wiretaps to the hand of Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Baena, known as Tacito since he led the investigation against the Mossos for 1-O, precisely as revenge after seeing how Major Josep Lluís Trapero and the Catalan police leadership were acquitted of those accusations. Moreover, in the Mossos there is no doubt that the spirit of revenge is such that Baena has even rushed, putting at risk the investigation of issues that could have a basis, such as diversion of funds from the Provincial Council or alleged trafficking of influence. It would even have damaged the investigations opened in the National Court on who led the Democratic Tsunami and the violent protests against the 1-O sentence.
Whether or not the conversations collected by the Civil Guard show a crime remains to be seen. What is evident is that in the two pro-independence parties there is a concern for the effects of these wiretaps on leaders in the shadow of the procés, such as David Madí for JxCat or Xavier Vendrell for ERC, who were always placed in journalistic information in the nucleus of influence of the decisions that led to the events of October 2017, but were not indicted by the Supreme Court. The always dangerous mix of private and political interests that these wiretaps reveal damages the image of the procés in full pre-electoral campaign. ERC has always boasted of “clean hands”, while one of the reasons for the birth of JxCat was the need to drop the burden of pujolismo and the 3%.
The wiretaps certify the decomposition of the process in the last three years. The union has been destroyed and there is no shared goal in the short term. Everyone admits that the next Government is not going to be the engine that drives another 1-O, which does not mean that it will not be tried again in the future or that the independence vote will collapse. But the next elections are once again a classic dispute for power. In that situation, Carles Puigdemont will have to make a relevant decision next week: whether or not he heads the electoral list.
His charisma weighs in favor of yes, far superior to the rest of the JxCat applicants and greater than that of his rival in ERC, Pere Aragonès. His leadership would also avoid a factional dispute in JxCat, although the effective candidate will still have to be chosen, as Puigdemont will not return from Waterloo. They have already announced that the MP Laura Borràs, close to the former president Quim Torra, and the minister Damià Calvet, close to Josep Rull, will participate in the primary elections. Neither is preferred by Waterloo. Another one that the former president liked could join: Jordi Puigneró or Ramon Tremosa, for example, who would have the support of leaders such as Elsa Artadi or Albert Batet. Almost no one at JxCat doubts that, in a primary election of these characteristics, Borràs would win. The problem is that her career will be interrupted at some point by the judicial process that accuses her of alleged irregular contracts.
Among the reasons the former president considers for not being a candidate is to preserve his figure as a benchmark for independence. These elections are not those of 2017, when everything revolved around the message of “restitution.” A defeat against Aragonès would detract from the figure of the “president in exile” who works for independence at the international level.
For JxCat and ERC, the mother of all battles has arrived, although most of the independence leaders believe that after the elections the two parties will agree again. The question is whether they will be capable of overcoming so many quarrels as to design a new shared strategy beyond sharing power quotas, as the wiretapping shamelessly reflects.
ERC already negotiates details of the Budget
ERC has already begun to negotiate specific aspects of the budget with the Government of Pedro Sánchez. Republicans have already decided not to present an amendment to the entirety this next week, which facilitates the processing of the budget. And they have done so after a round of consultations with the territorial leaders. But its provision goes further and, in fact, they have already begun to put on the table of Minister María Jesús Montero some demands, for example those related to investments in infrastructure. Republicans continue to insist that the Government must decide between themselves and Citizens, but the demand is becoming less and less, and the accent will be placed above all on whether or not economic concessions are taken from the Executive to give the definitive yes.
Ciudadanos do not break because of the language issue
Although Ciudadanos has rhetorically raised a cry for the agreement of the Ministry of Education with ERC on the statement referring to language in schools, the truth is that it has not gone further and, for example, has not broken negotiations with the Government for the budget. The text of the educational law suppresses the reference to the Wert law that considered Castilian “vehicular language” throughout the State. Language has always been a nuclear issue for Ciudadanos, especially in Catalonia, and Inés Arrimadas has criticized the new wording of Minister Celaá. But her criticism has not led her to break the negotiation that, for months, has been holding on the budget. So Sánchez believes that squaring the circle, that is, the support of ERC and Cs, is more possible than ever.