Rajoy’s centralist proposals put Catalan forces on guard
The winner of the Spanish Elections, Mariano Rajoy, outlined his government programme at the parliamentary debate on his approval before being officially appointed Prime Minister. Rajoy, without revealing any details, talked about redefining public powers, reforming public administrations, homogenising welfare policies and ensuring market unity. The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA) and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) warned Rajoy of not affecting Catalonia’s self-government with his reforms.
Madrid (ACN).- On Monday, the leader of the People\u2019s Party (PP) and winner of the Spanish Elections, Mariano Rajoy asked the Spanish Parliament for their backing for him to become the next Prime Minister. In the first day of the two-day parliamentary debate, Rajoy addressed the plenary and announced the main points of his government programme. With a speech focused on the economy, Rajoy offered an overview of his main policies, but without entering into details. Throughout the PP leader\u2019s speech, there were several messages emphasising Spain\u2019s unity, announcing homogenisation measures and a potential recentralisation of some powers. Rajoy talked about redefining public powers and reforming public administrations, on the basis of \u201Cone power, one administration\u201D. He linked this to austerity to reduce redundancies and save money.
The Catalan parties with representation at the Spanish Parliament reacted with caution. It is the case of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition \u2018Convergència i Unió\u2019 (CiU), the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) \u2013which is part of the Spanish Socialist Party\u2013, the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition \u2018Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds \u2013 Esquerra Unida I Alternativa\u2019 (ICV-EUiA), and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party \u2018Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya\u2019 (ERC). They believe in the principle of avoiding redundancies, but they fear that the Autonomous Communities might loose more powers, benefiting a re-centralisation of the Spanish State. Furthermore, Rajoy talked about \u201Cguaranteeing common services for all Spanish citizens\u201D and \u201Censuring market unity\u201D. For the aforementioned Catalan parties, those principles could be translated into a homogenisation of Spain, the problem being not on the principle but on how it is done. CiU, PSC, ERC, and ICV-EUiA fear that Rajoy could use the the activation of an economic recovery, the reduction in unemployment and balancing public finances as excuses to recentralise Spain and trim Catalonia\u2019s self-government.
All the Catalan Parties, except for the Catalan branch of the People\u2019s Party (Mariano Rajoy\u2019s party), agree that Rajoy\u2019s speech had a tone of re-centralisation. They also pointed out that Catalonia was not mentioned in the speech of the candidate to become Prime Minister.
The Spokesperson for CiU, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, said that Rajoy had not even mentioned \u201CSpain\u2019s plurality and diversity\u201D. He condemned the idea of \u201Ca recentralisation\u201D. Duran asked Rajoy about the \u20AC759 million the Spanish Government promised to pay Catalonia in 2011, and to which it is legally entitled. Rajoy stated he will study the issue and the state of the Spanish finances, and if Catalonia is right, he will pay the funds. However, it is unlikely this will happen before the end of 2011.
The PSC coordinator in the Spanish Parliament and Senate, Francesc Vallès, said he was worried about Mariano Rajoy\u2019s speech. Vallès said that Rajoy had \u201Cshown a very big and sharp scissors that will bring a worrying amount of budget cuts in Welfare policies.\u201D
The Spokesperson for ICV-EUiA, Joan Coscubiela, claimed that Rajoy\u2019s words were \u201Can attempt to camouflage the budget cuts in Welfare Policies\u201D. He also wanted to insist on the \u201Crecentralisation process\u201D that appears the PP is determined to carry out.
Alfred Bosch, Spokesperson for ERC, said that with his speech, \u201CRajoy has given more arguments for Catalonia to abandon Spain\u201D. Bosch stressed Rajoy\u2019s re-centralisation and said, \u201Cwe do not fit into a state like that\u201D.