Opposition blasts government infighting and threatens legal action if independence push resumes

Socialists and anti-austerity Comuns say cabinet is 'weak' while CUP demands referendum and right-wing unionists call to avoid repeating 2017 events

Socialist Salvador Illa, left, getting up to address the Parliament as vice president Jordi Puigneró and president Pere Aragonès chat in the background (by Job Vermeulen)
Socialist Salvador Illa, left, getting up to address the Parliament as vice president Jordi Puigneró and president Pere Aragonès chat in the background (by Job Vermeulen) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 29, 2021 02:55 PM

The opposition parties in the Catalan parliament found some consensus in criticizing the government coalition partners' discrepancies during the second session of the annual general policy debate.

After President Pere Aragonès called for Spain's "repression" of independence campaigners to come to an end so that dialogue between Barcelona and Madrid can succeed, the head of the opposition, Salvador Illa of the Socialists, emphasized that the cabinet is not united on how to tackle the talks.

While the senior government partner, Esquerra, prioritizes this path and called the first round of talks on September 15 "historic," its ally, Junts, is skeptical and declined to send any of its ministers to the first meeting.

Socialists: 'unreal goal' of amnesty and referendum

"Don't you see that rejecting talks is not the way out?" Illa told Junts.

He also told the Aragonès cabinet that putting forward an amnesty for those who are entangled in legal issues relating to the independence movement "is an unreal goal that is impossible to achieve."

Illa also said that the government "does not work," stressing the lack of unity amongst ministers regarding whether to back the expansion of the Barcelona airport at the expense of a nature reserve. Yet, he said the Socialists were open to negotiating the 2022 budget.

En Comú Podem: government 'weak, passive and unchanging'

In the same vein, anti-austerity En Comú Podem said that the executive led by Aragonès is "weak, passive and unchanging."

"The government's score and music do not match. It could not be more out of tune, and only war drums between Esquerra and Junts can be heard," said Jéssica Albiach, the parliamentary head of the left-wing ally of Unidas Podemos, the junior member of the Spanish government.

She also said that the talks with Spain will benefit everyone, "even those who work to blow them up," she said in reference to Junts.

CUP: vote on independence by 2025

As for CUP, the far-left pro-independence party that supports the government from the opposition, MP Carles Riera said that Esquerra is not complying with the agreement they reached in order to gather sufficient support for Aragonès' presidential bid this spring.

He also called on the government to set a date "now" for a referendum on self-determination during this term – CUP's manifesto proposed a plebiscite in 2025.

Indeed, the party will put forward a parliamentary motion that will be voted on Thursday that calls on the executive to organize a vote by the end of the term.

Vox: legal action if referendum motion passes

Yet, far-right Vox also said during the general policy debate that if the motion is approved, they will take "legal action" before the Spanish Constitutional Court to annul it.

Party leader Ignacio Garriga stated that his party has already taken "those in charge of the coup d'état" to court, referring to the organizers of the 2017 independence push.

Also, he said that Aragonès' presidency is bringing "stagnation" and "inactivity."

Ciudadanos: government of 'frustration and old promises'

Unionist Ciudadanos said that if the government "completes the anti-democratic push," they will stop it by taking the independence movement's leaders to court. "We will do it because the rule of law and democracy is on our side," said leader Carlos Carrizosa.

According to him, Aragonès' team has only sown "division" in Catalonia.

"You can only offer frustration and old promises that you will never achieve."

People's Party: independence camp 'wants to remove hurdles that prevented coup'

The People's Party warned lawmakers that the government is trying to repeat the 2017 push that ended in the declaration of independence in parliament.

MP Alejandro Fernández believes that those in power want to "damage" the institutions that stopped the plans of those in government four years ago: the crown, the judiciary and law enforcement.

"They want to remove the hurdles that prevented the coup," he said.