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Left-wing independence party ERC asks to sit in Catalan Government to further develop state structures

A day after the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, announced his plan to further develop the so-called state structures before the 27 September elections, the leader of the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, has once again requested to be part of the Executive and sit in Cabinet. Junqueras justified his request in order “to guarantee the indispensable state structures”, such as Catalonia’s own tax administration and Social Security system. The embryonic frame of such structures should be created before the next Catalan elections, which will be called early and will be transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence from Spain. On Tuesday, Mas had already ruled out the possibility of the ERC sitting in Government and, on Wednesday, the Catalan President stressed that the current Cabinet will only be in office for the next 6 months.

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18 February 2015 10:26 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- A day after the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, announced his plan to further develop the so-called state structures before the 27 September elections, the leader of the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, has once again requested to be part of the Executive and sit in Cabinet. On Wednesday, Junqueras justified his request in order “to guarantee the indispensable state structures”, such as Catalonia’s own tax administration and Social Security system. The embryonic frame of such structures should be created before the next Catalan elections, which will be called early and will be transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence from Spain, after the Spanish Government’s total opposition to hold a mutually-agreed upon vote on the issue since 2012, despite the clear electoral mandate for holding such a vote. On Tuesday, Mas had already ruled out the possibility of the ERC sitting in Government and, on Wednesday, the Catalan President, stressed that the current Cabinet will only be in office for the next 6 months. Therefore, he will not be remodeling the Cabinet and government structures to fit ERC representatives for such a short time, Mas argued.


During the Catalan Parliament’s government control session, Junqueras insisted that the ERC should be allowed to join the Government and hold some portfolios. The ERC is “willing to assume the maximum responsibilities” in order “to guarantee the indispensable state structures”. The creation of such structures is part of the agreement signed in mid-January between the CiU and the ERC in order to approve the Catalan Government’s budget for 2015 and to call early elections in September, transformed into a ‘de facto’ independence referendum. “We believe that our contribution can be very relevant”, emphasised Junqueras. 

The Catalan President replied that in late 2012 and early 2013, at the start of the current term, on several occasions he offered the ERC the opportunity to sit in the Cabinet and run some government departments, but the left-wing pro-independence party rejected it. Mas added that now it is simply not the time to do so, as elections are due in 6 months and therefore the current government will only be in office for half a year, which is too short a period to launch sweeping changes in the Cabinet. The current government “has done a great amount of work” over the last few years, “and now it is time to finish it”, he added. “There are 6 or 7 months left, let’s make the most out of them”, concluded Mas.

However, Mas also highlighted his commitment “to work together” with the ERC on developing state structures, namely Catalonia’s own tax administration and Social Security system. Junqueras replied that the “more basic” state structures are the schools, the primary care centres and the homes for the elderly, which should be the top priority, without stopping to develop the embryonic structure for a Catalan tax agency and a Social Security system. According to Junqueras, the presence of the ERC in the Government will strengthen its social edge.

Mas presented 10 priorities for the next 7 months: state structures and social policies

Junqueras’ offer seems to be in response to the speech given on Tuesday by Mas and the plan he announced for the next 7 months. On Tuesday, after the weekly Cabinet meeting, the Catalan President held a press conference and presented his government priorities for the rest of the term, before the 27 September elections. Mas will focus his government actions on 10 areas, which can be grouped into two main blocks: state structures and the independence road map on the one hand and job creation and social policies on the other. 

In addition, he appointed two independent professionals as special Commissioners: for strengthening transparency and for the development of state structures. The former Catalan Supreme Court (TSJC) judge, Núria Bassols, will be the new Commissioner for Transparency, in charge of strengthening transparency measures and implementing measures against corruption and fraud. Carles Viver Pi i Sunyer, former Vice President of Spain’s Constitutional Court and university chair of Constitutional Law, will become the Commissioner for Catalonia’s National Transition, in charge of co-ordinating the development of state structures, the most important of which being Catalonia’s own Tax Agency.

The 10 priorities set by Mas for the spring and summer are the following:

  1. Creating jobs: having less unemployment than that registered in 2010, when the CiU started to run the Government. This involves approving 3 important laws, which are in the last part of the parliamentary approval process, and specific plans for the youth (16-25 year olds) and people in need (those receiving the minimum insertion income).
  2. Stimulating the industrial sector: fostering private innovation and grouping technological innovation centres.
  3. Fighting poverty: increasing the number of beneficiaries of the minimum insertion income by increasing the global funds for this programme and preventing energy companies from cutting off supply to families in need.
  4. Fostering the Welfare State: increasing by 20% grants to pay for housing rents and mortgages to avoid people losing their homes and guaranteeing universal healthcare, counteracting the Spanish Government’s restrictions.
  5. Prioritising education and culture: increasing funding for the school system and cultural equipment, and defending the Catalan School model from the Spanish Government’s recentralising reform, which attacks the Catalan language and fosters cultural homogenisation.
  6. Developing the Anti-Discrimination Law: launching a packet of measures in order to develop a law approved last autumn, which will benefit all minorities.
  7. Launching an infrastructure plan: listing the main infrastructures, creating a plan to protect and upgrade them, and identifying and starting to design essential infrastructures needed to strengthen the competitiveness of the Catalan economy.
  8. Preparing state structures: launching the embryos of the main structures of a Catalan State in order to be ready if citizens vote for independence on 27 September. Later on, during the negotiation period and transition towards independence, these structures would grow and take onboard functions currently developed by Spanish institutions.
  9. Strengthening external action: increasing political activities abroad and in relation to international organisations, as well as further assisting Catalan companies to reach new markets, attract foreign investment and promote Catalan language and culture abroad.
  10. Fostering transparency: further develop measures to strengthen transparency and fight corruption and fraud.

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  • Oriol Junqueras (centre) and Artur Mas (right), on Wednesay at the Catalan Parliament (by B. Fuentes)

  • Oriol Junqueras (centre) and Artur Mas (right), on Wednesay at the Catalan Parliament (by B. Fuentes)