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Catalan Government's budget for 2015 to pass its first parliamentary filter

The left-wing independence party ERC announced it will not block the Catalan Government's budget proposal for 2015, which should allow the bill to continue its parliamentary approval process. ERC's decision comes within the negotiations with the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU to run together or separately in early Catalan elections that should be transformed into a 'de facto' referendum on independence. The CiU is missing 18 MPs to get the absolute majority and it needs the votes or the abstention from at least one other group to approve next year's budget. The ERC and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) are the only two groups that could enable the bill to pass, although they do not seem willing to do so. By not blocking the budget, the ERC is "facilitating" an agreement with the CiU. However, they are expecting the new budget not to be approved in the end because early elections should be called, although they "do not rule out any scenario".

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15 December 2014 08:13 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The left-wing independence party ERC has announced it will not block the Catalan Government's budget proposal for 2015, a decision that should allow the bill to continue its parliamentary debate and approval process. The rest of the opposition parties are expected to register full amendments to the bill. ERC's decision comes within the political negotiations with the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU to run together or separately in early Catalan elections that should be transformed into a 'de facto' referendum on independence. The CiU holds 50 parliamentary seats and is missing 18 MPs to get the absolute majority. Therefore they need the votes or the abstention from at least one other group to approve next year's budget. The ERC and the CiU have been sharing a parliamentary stability agreement for the last 2 years, which was broken when the CiU's leader and Catalan President, Artur Mas, unilaterally decided to reshape November 9's vote on independence. Now, the ERC and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) are the only two groups that could enable the Catalan Government's bill to pass, although they do not seem willing to do so. The ERC decided not to block the budget at this point "to facilitate an agreement" with the CiU, they said. However the ERC was also expecting the bill not to be approved in the end because early elections should be called, although they "do not rule out any scenario".


The ERC has been the only opposition party that has not registered a full amendment to the Catalan Government's budget bill for 2015. In addition, they have announced they will vote to reject the other parties' full amendments. With these actions, the ERC will allow the Government's budget proposal to pass its first important parliamentary filter, allowing it to continue its parliamentary approval process. However, the budget's definitive approval is far from being guaranteed. They ERC is reluctant to fully back the budget because it is their main negotiating tool  to push the Catalan President into calling early elections. In addition, the current budget still includes many austerity measures and public services are still under-budgeted, which are unpopular measures, particularly for a party that is also stressing its social agenda.

The ERC's Spokesperson for economic matters, Pere Aragonès, stated on Monday that this decision has been adopted as "a gesture of responsibility" towards "the Government and the country", in order to develop a positive atmosphere for the negotiations with the CiU and to facilitate an agreement on the early elections. Aragonès explained that they are not willing "to force the Government" to call early elections by not being able to pass the 2015 budget and, instead, they prefer to build a collaboration atmosphere.

The ERC are hoping that in the coming weeks, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, will call early elections. Therefore, since the Catalan Parliament will be dissolved, the current budget proposal would not be approved and the newly elected Government would have to prepare a new one, plans the left-wing party. The ERC, which supports a unilateral declaration of independence, stated weeks ago that they refused to support the budget proposal for 2015 because it has not been designed to build an independent country. The ERC argues that since an independence referendum should be organised in Catalonia in early 2015, in the form of early parliamentary elections, the current budget proposal will be useless, as the independence option is likely to win. However, Aragonès highlighted that "no scenario can be ruled out".

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  • The ERC's Spokesperson for economic affairs at the Catalan Parliament, Pere Aragonès, on Monday (by A. Moldes)

  • The ERC's Spokesperson for economic affairs at the Catalan Parliament, Pere Aragonès, on Monday (by A. Moldes)