Pro-independence forces carry on negotiating during Spain's electoral campaign
The calendar for pro-independence cross-party list 'Junts Pel Sí' and radical left CUP to reach an agreement hasn't stopped despite the campaign for the upcoming Spanish elections. Although CUP reinforced their 'no' to instating Artur Mas as Catalan President after holding their National Debate, party leader Antonio Baños assured that this wasn't "CUP's last word". On the same day as Spain's electoral campaign officially began, 'Junts Pel Sí' presented a social action plan, in response to CUP's call to make a move and negotiate also in the social field. Following this, 'Junts Pel Sí' presented a social action plan at the end of last week which included measures to fight energy poverty and establish the deed of assignment in payment so as to avoid debt continuing for the particulars even though they have been evicted, amongst others. Representatives from both parties assured that such a move had given a breath of fresh air and renewed hope to the talks.
Barcelona (CNA).- The negotiations between cross-party list 'Junts Pel Sí' and radical left CUP in order to constitute a new government are ongoing despite the campaign for the upcoming Spanish elections. On the same day as Spain's electoral campaign officially began, 'Junts Pel Sí' presented a social action plan, in response to CUP's call to make a move and negotiate also in the social field. The proposal included measures to fight energy poverty, raise the minimum salary and establish the deed of assignment in payment so as to avoid debt continuing for the particulars even though they have been evicted, amongst others. Representatives from both parties assured that such a move had given a breath of fresh air and renewed hope to the talks. CUP MP Benet Salellas admitted that the negotiations were now entering "a decisive phase". He defined 'Junts Pel Sí's action plan as "the first example of precision" and celebrated that their pro-independence partner in the Parliament had finally "buckled down".
The document presented by 'Junts Pel Sí' included 20 social measures such as guaranteeing 100% of children’s food needs, establishing a minimum wage of 1,000 euros per month, fighting energy poverty, setting up thedeed of assignment in payment so as to avoid debt continuing for the particulars even though they have been evicted, and establishing a guaranteed minimum income.
In the education and health sectors, which were significantly privatised during the economic crisis, the proposals suggest eliminating subsidies for schools and education centres which divide the pupils according to gender and regarding the health system, to reeduce the waiting lists for first visits by up to 50%.
Finally, the document also proposed some fiscal reforms, such as restoring the tax on banks and the green taxes which were left pending by the Spanish Constitutional Court, promoting the personal use of renewable energies and launching an agreement to reach 100% of renewable energy production by 2050.
Although some of these measures could be launched within a budgetary extension, most of them would require a new budget to be approved by all the forces in the Parliament. "Even considering the complexity of the context we have the mechanisms to fund such a proposal" stated pro-independence ERC leader and 'Junts Pel Sí' number five, Oriol Junqueras. He assured that 'Junts Pel Sí's proposed measures could be achieved "despite the Spanish Minister for Finance Cristóbal Montoro turning the tap on and off".
CUP celebrated the social action plan proposal
Soon after holding its National Debate, CUP's number two, Anna Garbiel,emphasised that the 27-S elections had a plebiscitary but also a constitutive nature and therefore negotiations have to be carried out in the social field as well. Gabriel urged the end of "the privatisation" of key sectors such as natural resources, the health system and the education centres and assured that although they "accept negotiating" the Catalan government's budget for next year, the party will not "inherit the current anti-social budget". "We want to stop the privatisation, and reverse the cuts and the commitment to the declaration of independence proposal, which is useless [as it’s] being appealed in the Spanish Constitutional Court" she concluded.
A couple of days afterwards,CUP MP Benet Salellas commented on 'Junts Pel Sí's move and described its action plan as a "first example of precision" although it is still "very incomplete". He admitted that the negotiations were now entering "a decisive phase" which was "exploratory up to now" and celebrated that their pro-independence partner in the Parliament had finally "buckled down".
Disagreement over who will be President continues
CUP has always repeated that they won't instate President Mas as President. The party pointed to the connection of his party, CDC, to many corruption scandals and the need to find a candidate who better reflects the "different sensibilities" of the pro-independence movement. CUP reinforced their veto on Mas after holding its National Debate, as 823 of the 1,300 participants again rejected Mas' candidacy and 574 voted for continuing the negotiations with cross-party list 'Junts Pel Sí'. "If there are elections it will be because 'Junts Pel Sí' won't have made the move that people are asking for" stated CUP's number two, Anna Gabriel. Therefore, they rejected the cross-party list proposal to create three "government commissions" led by left-wing ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, current Catalan vice-president Neus Munté and 'Junts Pel Sí' top member former MEP Raül Romeva. This would keep Mas as Catalan President but he would be joined by a "Presidency's Board" with delegated competences.
ERC, the intermediary
ERC's leader Oriol Junqueras nuanced the role of intermediary that many media have claimed ERC to have in the negotiation process between CUP and 'Junt Pel Sí'. "We are closer to CUP than CDC is, especially in the social field" assured Junqueras "but we are also closer to CDC than CUP is, especially in the economic field" he admitted.
ERC's candidate for the Spanish elections Gabriel Rufián assured that "without Artur Mas and without what he represents, independence won't be done". "We ask CUP to press the button" he stated "there is no better way to know whether Mas is going to make independence or not than making him President". According to Rufián, CUP and 'Junts Pel Sí' should avoid entering into a "fratricide debate" and emphasised that "the only enemies" are anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans, the Catalan People's Party (PPC) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC).
Elections in March not an impossibility
Although both parties involved in the negotiations have repeated that calling for new elections in March is not their desired scenario, current Catalan President Artur Mas admitted that it was a possibility. "We hope not, but it is a possibility and if after the elections we achieve a greater, reinforced and more operative majority, much better" admitted Mas and emphasised his bid for "a neat democracy". "Do we have majorities? Let's go ahead then. If we don't have such majorities, then it means that Catalonia is not supporting the path we are following now" he stated. However, he insisted that he is for "following the current process" so that "Catalonia would be able to be constituted as a state".