ALEX TORT, 26/27 DECEMBER 2022
THE CATALAN CONFLICT
The president calls for the beginning of a stage that definitively resolves the political conflict
“2023 must be the year to give shape to the Catalan proposal for a clarity agreement”. Pere Aragonès has insisted this Monday night on bringing forward a great pact between social, economic, and political agents, all from the Catalan sphere, that sets the conditions for a referendum agreed with the Government. The initiative was launched in Parliament on 27 September without setting deadlines. But he has done so this time, during his institutional Christmas speech: it must be set next year.
The President insists on a proposal that was born lame duck, given that it was rejected just three days later in the Catalan Parliament with the only votes in favour of Esquerra and the Commons. Junts, which at the time had only a week left in the government, abstained. Moreover, Moncloa has taken it upon itself in recent days to put the brakes on Aragonès’ project and has affirmed that “there will be no referendum on self-determination”, that it is “unconstitutional”, and that “it will not be held”.
But the head of the government turns a deaf ear. He clings to the achievements in terms of de-judicialisation. “It was said that it was impossible to repeal sedition, it was said that it was impossible to modify the crime of embezzlement. And today, the crime of sedition (…) no longer exists and many of the aspects of embezzlement that, by manipulating the current law, allowed the organisation of 1-O to be prosecuted, have been limited”, he stressed in his speech.
Pere Aragonès is very likely to clash with Pedro Sánchez this time. The President of the Government considers that he has already clarified the Catalan front with a view to the next general elections and that he has already met with ERC.
Even so, the Republican is confident. He has gained momentum thanks to the results of the dialogue roundtable. The momentum is even greater after seeing that the crux of last year’s institutional message, also during the Sant Esteve festival, has been fulfilled: “2022 must be the year in which we begin to unblock the conflict with the State, it must be the year in which the negotiation with the State advances and begins to bring tangible results”, he observed at the time. “To persevere is to move forward (…). The negotiation to resolve the political conflict is beginning to bear fruit”, he proudly proclaimed on this occasion.
The head of the Government uses the reform of the Penal Code to show that “negotiation is bearing fruit”.
The “repression” constantly denounced by the pro-independence movement is the consequence of the political conflict. For Aragonès, the state’s refusal to hold a referendum in Catalonia is the cause of this problem. “Until we do not respond to this, the political conflict will exist”, he pointed out.
So now, for Aragonès, it is essential to open a new phase that addresses the issue of self-determination. The clarity agreement is his commitment, and in order to shape it, the President proposes promoting “a debate, a great conversation with the whole of Catalan society” in 2023. This would be “a great agreement in Catalonia that is explicable and internationally comparable”, and which would ultimately have to be outlined and refined with the Spanish government.
The Republican insists on a proposal that Moncloa and the Parliament have rejected.
It remains to be seen whether the dialogue table will be re-staged. Moncloa wants to hibernate it; in the Palau de la Generalitat they do not throw in the towel and believe that they can meet again before the end of 2022. They recall that the date of the last of the meetings, 27 July, was made official the previous afternoon.
Aragonès delivered his speech from the Llevant room of the Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya, in Barcelona. It is one of the most representative examples of Catalan civil Gothic architecture and forms part of the Catalan cultural map. Last year, he delivered his institutional message on 26 December, thus breaking the tradition since 1980 of the presidents of the Generalitat of making their speeches to coincide with New Year’s Eve.