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Government in crisis over 2022 budget with partners divided on strategy ahead

ERC seeking support for spending plan but JxCat reject talks with parties not explicitly in favour of independence

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21 November 2021 11:08 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

The Catalan government is facing one of its greatest crises yet over the negotiations surrounding the 2022 budget bill. 

After the pro-independence coalition in power failed in negotiations to pass the spending plan with fellow pro-independence CUP, Esquerra and Junts have been forced to seek support from another opposition party to have the bill approved by lawmakers. 

Esquerra Republicana, the senior coalition party in government, held “productive” talks with left-wing En Comú Podem over the budget on Sunday, and president Pere Aragonès, of Esquerra, announced an agreement with the party during the cabinet meeting on Monday. 

Time is of the essence with these negotiations, as Monday sees the parliamentary session in which voting will take place on the complete amendment motions filed by opposition parties against the budget, which could effectively shoot the bill down unless some party changes their stance. ERC sources say that running against the clock “does not help.”

Between them, the government partners do not have a majority in the chamber, and therefore need the support of an opposition party in order to have the budget plan approved.

However, junior coalition partners, Junts per Catalunya, are far more sceptical about engaging in talks with parties who are not explicitly in favour of Catalan independence. En Comú Podem are the only party not strictly aligned on the independence issue, favouring a referendum but not necessarily a split with Spain. 

As such, JxCat have rejected participating in the talks with ECP, despite the fact that they are in charge of the economy ministry, a department headed by Jaume Giró. 

“What we did not agree with CUP, we will not agree with En Comú Podem," Junts general secretary, Jordi Sànchez, said in a press conference on Sunday. He also urged “responsibility” from opposition groups to allow the spending plan to be passed in parliament.

He called on CUP and ERC to make “one last effort” to renew discussions in hope of seeing a pro-independence budget pass. A deal with CUP was the initial priority of the government partners and maintain the “52% majority” of pro-independence votes in the last election.

Meanwhile, there is a sense from En Comú Podem that discussions are “stuck” given the discrepancies between the two “divided” parties in power. Esquerra, in a move towards ECP, will enable Barcelona's budget to pass, as the city hall is led by a coalition government between En Comú Podem and the Catalan socialist party, PSC.

There is uncertainty among ECP about whether they are engaging with the whole executive or only a part of it. Regardless, they remain open to discussions as an act of “good faith.”

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  • President Aragonès before an extraordinary cabinet meeting on November 22, 2021 (by Jordi Bedmar/ Presidència)

  • President Aragonès before an extraordinary cabinet meeting on November 22, 2021 (by Jordi Bedmar/ Presidència)

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