An unlikely triangle of 2019 budgets, at stake
To pass spending plans in Spain, Catalonia, and Barcelona, Spanish left-wing parties and pro-independence forces need each other’s support – but it’s not so simple
The Catalan allies of the left-wing Podemos party (called Catalunya en Comú, or CatECP) need the support of pro-independence forces to pass Barcelona’s spending plan – and vice versa, in Catalan parliament.
The governments in Spain, Catalonia and Barcelona need their 2019 budgets to be stronger –especially ahead of the upcoming local elections and other potential elections.
They need allies, and a chain of support between parties backing each of the three executives could contribute to passing all the spending plans.
But this is not as easy as it may seem.
Barcelona mayor: “Global pact” on three budgets
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, of Catalunya en Comú, put forward a “global pact” to the Spanish ruling Socialists (PSC), and the Catalan ruling pro-independence Esquerra (ERC) and PDeCAT parties to pass the 2019 budgets in Spain, Catalonia and Barcelona.
Colau called on the other three parties to “show that they are in the institutions to prioritize citizens.”
Yet none of them agrees with her statement. “The maths doesn’t check out with this triangle,” said the Catalan Socialists (PSC), who say Catalunya en Comú is closer to the pro-independence forces than to them.
According to ERC, Colau’s idea was “playing to the gallery, rather than a real option.” Its spokeswoman said they are open to talk to everyone, but think it is “nonsense” to accept it without even looking at the budgets.
Barcelona is governed by Colau’s Barcelona en Comú (a local sister to the larger CatECP) which has been unable to get a majority support in the local council for any budget since taking office in 2015. The Catalan capital mayor is willing to achieve it now, seven months before the next local election.
President Torra needs Colau’s party for Catalan budget
The Catalan president, Quim Torra, has always said he wants to pass his 2019 budget with the CUP party.
But, now, this is no longer enough, after four of the MPs supporting him were suspended and are reluctant to be replaced, resulting in a loss of pro-independence majority in the chamber.
The Catalan government is also open to working for the support of Colau’s CatECP, as its leaders have been saying over the past few weeks.
If ERC, PDeCAT and CatECP backed both Catalan and Barcelona budgets at the same time, they would both passed – but since Colau’s platform came to stage in 2015, this has yet to happen.
Spain: left-wing alliance aims to create a dilemma for pro-independence forces
The ruling Socialists in the Spanish government (PSOE) and Unidos Podemos, led by Pablo Iglesias, agreed on the 2019 budget on Thursday.
Their measures include raising the minimum wage from 735 to 900 euros, making maternity and paternity leaves equal and raising property tax for people amassing more than 10 million euros by one percentage point.
But both groups’ votes are not enough to pass the budget in the Congress. They need the backing of both pro-independence Catalans and the Basque Nationalist Party.
With these measures, they aim to create a dilemma for Catalan pro-independence parties. Either the aforementioned support social measures, but risk accusations of helping the Socialists and receiving nothing related to independence in return, or they reject the spending plan – and the social measures – but this way leaving the Spanish government in a more fragile situation, with no majority in the Congress, thereby providing some leverage.
One hint on the pro-independence parties’ approach was given by Catalan vice president Pere Aragonès: “We will not discuss the budget unless the Spanish government makes a move on self-determination, the issue of the jailed leaders and the accusations to the Supreme Court.”
Either way, the Spanish 2019 budget is very unlikely to pass, because it must also be accepted by the upper chamber in Madrid, the Senate. And this is controlled by the conservative People’s Party, which have already said that such measure will led Spain to end like Venezuelan economy.