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Catalan Government to bring 2015 budget proposal to Parliament hoping for last minute support from ERC or PSC

While the alternative consultation vote on independence scheduled on the 9th of November approaches, the Catalan Government has additional priorities on its plate, starting with the approval of its budget for 2015. However, right now the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU does not have enough parliamentary support to approve it. Its parliamentary ally, the left-wing independence party ERC, is reluctant to back the new budget after the Catalan Government cancelled the original consultation vote. The ERC wants to start preparing the first budget of an independent state and on Tuesday it offered to extend the 2014 budget. However, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, announced on Wednesday he will bring the budget proposal to the Parliament anyway. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) offered itself as an ally, but Mas asked them to back the alternative consultation vote. The PSC replied that if the question is changed, "we can talk about everything".

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29 October 2014 08:11 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- While the alternative consultation vote on independence scheduled on the 9th of November approaches, the Catalan Government has additional priorities on its plate, starting with the approval of its budget for 2015. However, right now the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU does not have enough parliamentary support to approve the new budget for next year. Its parliamentary ally during 2013 and 2014, the left-wing independence party ERC is reluctant to back a budget proposal for 2015 after the Catalan Government cancelled the original consultation vote obeying the ban by the Spanish authorities. The ERC does not want a new "budget of an Autonomous Community" as it wants to prepare the first budget of an independent state. However, on Tuesday it offered to extend the 2014 budget to the CiU under the condition of calling early elections and recovering the full salary of public employees, which the Executive already announced a month ago. Nevertheless, the Catalan President and CiU's leader, Artur Mas, stated on Wednesday that he will bring the budget proposal to the Parliament anyway. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) – which is part of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) offered itself as a potential ally, but Mas asked them to back the alternative consultation vote in exchange. The PSC leader, Miquel Iceta, replied that if the question is changed, "we can talk about everything". According to Iceta, Mas is in a "dead end" because "he cannot govern with those with whom he is organising the November 9 [vote] while those who could help him, we are not [backing] the November 9" initiative. However, Mas believes that by bringing the budget proposal to the Catalan Parliament, the CiU would show it delivers the 2015 budget while the ERC and PSC will feel pressured by public opinion to back the public accounts for next year, considering that early elections are likely to come and no party wants to be perceived as the one obstructing the economic recovery and the functioning of public services. If Mas cannot approve the 2015 budget or the extension of the 2014 one, he would be pushed to call early elections, something the ERC wants but the PSC rejects.


The Catalan Government will try to approve a new budget for 2015 and, if it is not possible, to make very obvious which parties are rejecting an agreement over the new accounts. On Wednesday, before the Catalan Parliament, Mas announced that he will bring next year's budget proposal to the Chamber for its approval before the end of the year. Mas admitted that such a decision is "a politically risky operation" but he insisted that the new budget is very important for economic recovery and for recovering the full salary of public employees in Catalonia, which has been reduced by 7% for the last 3 years.

The ERC insists it will not back a specific budget for 2015 for a regional government

The leader of the ERC, Oriol Junqueras, insisted that the party he chairs had "always" repeated that the budget for 2014 was "the last budget" designed for an Autonomous Community government, as the budget for 2015 should be designed to become that for an independent state. In this planning, the ERC had considered that the 9th of November's consultation vote would take place and that those supporting independence would win it. On Wednesday, Junqueras stated that "we will be delighted to approve a budget in the future, if this budget is the one of an independent country". Mas replied that he was taking note of Junqueras' offer about the future but that there were pressing matters to be agreed on for early 2015, such as the recovery of public employees' full salary.

Iceta is open "to talk about everything", if Mas changes the consultation vote's question

The leader of the PSC, Miquel Iceta, who is against an independence consultation vote – including the alternative version for the next November 9 – but backs Catalonia's right to self-determination, offered his party's votes to Mas. However, Iceta is asking for "a minimum dialogue", which will probably include giving up a vote on independence and focusing on negotiating a Constitutional Reform with the Spanish Government, which rejects such a reform. The PSC's First Secretary criticised extending the 2014 budget for 2015 and he also warned against calling early elections, as "they will not be positive for the citizens". Mas challenged Iceta to back the 9th of November's consultation vote and "it will be easier to talk" about the new budget and "all the rest" of the issues.

The PSC leader also replied to Mas and said that he is "open to talk about everything" if the Catalan President changes the consultation vote question about independence. In fact, Iceta proposed his own question in July (almost 8 months after a two-third majority of Catalan parties had already reached an agreement about the consultation vote question and date). Iceta's question did not receive the support from any other party, not even the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), to which the PSC is federated. He would ask Catalans whether they would like the Catalan Government to negotiate a Constitutional Reform with Spanish authorities in order to recognise Catalonia's "national character", to grant Catalonia a fiscal agreement and to fully respect Catalonia's powers regarding its language and culture. Iceta's question would therefore suggest a deep Constitutional Reform, recognising Catalonia's specificities and granting it a totally unique treatment within Spain, something that is totally rejected by the governing People's Party (PP) and the PSOE. In addition, Iceta would not ask about independence but about negotiating a new accommodation within Spain, while a large part of the Catalan society wants to vote on independence.

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  • Junqueras (left), Mas (centre, first row) and Iceta (standing up) on Wednesday at the Catalan Parliament (by R. Garrido)

  • Junqueras (left), Mas (centre, first row) and Iceta (standing up) on Wednesday at the Catalan Parliament (by R. Garrido)