Lola García, 3 April 2022
Laura Borràs talks with Jordi Sànchez, yesterday at the Junts National Council. Ramon Gabriel / EFE
The current Government of the Generalitat is walking on the wire. Not because its partners are at loggerheads over the airport expansion, the consultation on the Winter Games or dialogue with the central government. Not even because one defines itself as centre-right and the other as left-wing. Disagreements over management are common in many coalition governments. Even ideological differences are overcome if there is agreement on priorities, as was the case with the 1-O referendum. But what happens when there is no goal on the near horizon? The incentives to share a government decline for the one that feels stronger. This is what is happening between ERC and Junts. Any accident along the way could lead to a rupture.
In a few weeks the judges will decide whether to open oral proceedings against Laura Borràs, president of the Parliament (Junts), for alleged fraud at the head of the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes. In application of the Chamber’s rules of procedure, she could be stripped of her seat for this reason. ERC has it in its hand. Borràs raises her case as one more of the “repression” of the State and recalls that ERC has deputies pending trial for the 1-O. But the Republicans counter that Borràs’ case is alleged corruption, and there is a strong current among them in favour of withdrawing Borràs’ deputy’s seat.
In Junts, the convergent soul and the subversive soul of “the new” coexist with difficulty.
This would be a second turning point in the relationship between the two major pro-independence parties. The first was ERC’s decision not to remotely invest Carles Puigdemont as president of the Generalitat, something he has not forgiven his partners for. ERC’s support for the defenestration of Borràs would blow the government apart. Junts’ ministers would have to leave the Executive. The truth is that ERC would be happy to provoke Junts’ withdrawal in order to explore a more advantageous agreement with the commons and the CUP. Borràs, in turn, would present herself as a victim, not only of the state but also of ERC, at the Junts congress in June. She was the militancy’s favourite in the last primaries. The step backwards taken yesterday by Jordi Sànchez, who will not run again for the general secretariat of Junts, favours the aspirations of Jordi Turull over Borràs. The convergent soul versus the subversive soul of recent years.
For the Republicans, it is a risky move, but they are anxious to put their electoral rival behind them once and for all. Junts is in a delicate situation, internally disunited, without clear leadership (Puigdemont seems determined to leave the presidency), ideologically blurred and submerged in a certain political isolation. Leaving them out in the open, in opposition, in such a state is, for Esquerra, a temptation. Added to this is the fact that the Republicans believe that sharing the Government half-heartedly with their partners wears down the president, Pere Aragonès.
Since 2017, under the undisputed leadership of Oriol Junqueras, ERC has redirected the rudder towards pragmatism. But Junts has not taken that route. On the contrary. Puigdemont has gradually disengaged from the party, but has argued that it was possible to return to 2017 and force the state to negotiate. This discourse clashes with daily practice.
In Junts, the heirs of Convergència coexist badly with “the new ones”, as they define themselves, disavowing any link with the past. Those who yearn for the reliability that Jordi Pujol’s party once had, and those who embrace irredentism at the click of a tweet, do not get on well together. Some assume that it is necessary to open up to agreements with the PSC without complexes – now they do so with dissimulation – and argue that ERC makes agreements with the PSOE and no one disputes its independence. Others, including Borràs, are shocked by this insinuation. Whatever the outcome of her case, the viability of the Government will also be marked by the Junts congress and what soul is imposed on the party’s next leadership.
Indeed, to assume pacts with the PSC is to admit the end of the blocs that the pro-Catalan political process installed in Catalan politics and, therefore, of the 52% pro-independence narrative. But in the meantime there has been a pandemic that has left much destruction in its wake, followed by a war that has pushed inflation to 1980s levels. If anyone believes that politics can be exercised as if it were 2017, perhaps they are living in a bubble.