Catalan economists want the Spanish Government “to talk without prejudgements” on Catalonia’s self-determination
The Cercle d’Economia, the main Catalan economic forum open to businesspeople and academics, has published an opinion note on the political context following the last Catalan elections. In the note, the Cercle asks the Spanish Government “to talk” about the Catalan self-determination and “to reform” the Constitution accordingly. The Cercle does not explicitly back an independent Catalonia but it supports a deep reform of Spain’s territorial organisation and the finding of a negotiated solution for both parties, which may be reached through a legal referendum. In addition, the Cercle asks for a review of Spain’s internal distribution of the deficit targets among government levels and to increase those of the Autonomous Communities.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Cercle d’Economia, the main Catalan economic forum open to businesspeople and academics, wants the Spanish Government “to talk without prejudgements” about the Catalan self-determination and “to not exclude the reform of the Constitution” to fit in with Catalonia’s claims. The Cercle does not explicitly back an independent Catalonia but it supports a deep reform of Spain’s territorial organisation, which is based on the model of the Autonomous Communities with similar powers. They think the current model “does not work” and Spain’s organisation “should adapt to the circumstances”. In addition, the Cercle supports, “more than ever”, finding a negotiated solution to the Catalan self-determination claims for both sides; a solution that may be reached through a “legal” self-determination referendum. However, for this flagship of Catalonia’s civil society, the referendum should not be the final aim but “a tool to build consensus”. The vote should be made in a “loyal and rigorous” climate, as well as with “deep debate”. The Cercle also sent a message to the supporters of Catalonia’s independence, stating that “some political and social transformations require majorities that go way beyond those strictly legal”. On Tuesday, the Cercle published an opinion note on the political context following the last Catalan elections, which has been presented by its Chairman, Josep Piqué, Vueling’s current President and former Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister in Aznar’s cabinet, among other positions.
Furthermore, in line with the Catalan Government’s claims, the Cercle asked for a review of Spain’s internal distribution of the deficit targets among government levels and to increase those of the Autonomous Communities and local governments. Josep Piqué supported the idea that the deficit targets should be distributed in a fairer way among government levels, according to their public spending share. The European Parliament issued the same recommendation three weeks ago.
In addition, the economic forum also reflected on the political scenario after the last Catalan elections, held on the 25th of November. For the Cercle, the parliamentary stability agreement between the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) is “undoubtedly and perfectly legitimate”. The Cercle wanted to answer some queries from the Catalan business community that criticised the agreement and the consequent tax increases. Members of the economical and business elite have not fully accepted that the CiU, which was traditionally a party that defended the interests of Catalonia’s business community, has reached an agreement with a left-wing party that demands tax increases. For the Cercle, the agreement is fully “legitimate” as it is the fact of raising taxes, especially if they are aimed “at increasing the business competitiveness”. However, Piqué stated that “it does not seem” that the tax increase agreed on and the new fees approved go in this direction, but they seem to be just “an increase in the fiscal pressure”, which they do not support. In fact, they are “surprised” because the fiscal decisions go against the ideology backed until this time by the CiU.
On top of this, on the political aspect, the Cercle is also “surprised” that the ERC remains leading the opposition, despite having reached a parliamentary agreement with the CiU to support it while running the Catalan Government.
The Cercle has also warned about an “Italianisation” of Catalan and Spanish politics with the collapse of large parties, since the two traditional main parties in each of the two political ecosystems are plummeting. In Catalonia, the CiU and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) held 90 seats of the 135-seat Catalan parliament two years ago, while currently they only have 70 seats. In Spain, the People’s Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) together would not reach 50% of the votes if legislative elections were to be held right now, according to the latest polls.