Spanish government presents budget amidst pro-independence reluctance

Madrid says spending plan has "very important" budget allocations while Catalan government asks for a move on self-determination

From left to right, the Spanish finance minister, spokesperson, and economy minister on January 11 2018 (by Roger Pi de Cabanyes)
From left to right, the Spanish finance minister, spokesperson, and economy minister on January 11 2018 (by Roger Pi de Cabanyes) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

January 11, 2019 04:18 PM

The Spanish government has presented its budget, which will start the parliamentary procedures on Monday – but whether it will succeed remains far from certain.

It needs the pro-independence parties' support to be passed, but, so far, this seems unlikely. Catalan vice president Pere Aragonès, ERC party member, said the Spanish president needs to make a move on self-determination and against "repression."

"If he and his government want to make gestures to clarify that they reject the repression politics begun by the PP, that deciding Catalonia’s future belongs to the citizens of Catalonia with a free and democratic decision, as we’ve stood for," proclaimed Aragonès, "it will be a step forward that’ll make everything easier."

He made these remarks in a meeting of his party in Geneva, alongside the exiled ERC secretary general, Marta Rovira.

In Brussels, Catalan president Quim Torra backed Aragonès' words and said the two large pro-independence parties will stay "united" in the final decision on the Spanish budget.

Puigdemont: "This is not about budget allocations"

He spoke while meeting Carles Puigdemont in Belgium. The former president also had his say over the budget debate.

"We're talking about a political solution to a political conflict, not about specific budget allocations, this is about fundamental rights that are being violated, and especially, an important one: the right to self-determination," he said.

Despite reluctance shown by the pro-independence forces, the Spanish government is still hopeful that the budget can succeed.

"Optimism" to persuade pro-independence parties

Its finance minister is "optimist" about seducing ERC and PDeCAT, saying that the investment announced for Catalonia will be "attractive" enough for them to change their minds.

Although the exact figures have not been yet made public, some Madrid sources say Catalonia will get an extra 1.7 billion euro.

Overall the Spanish budget foresees earning 5.6 billion euro more than last year and will spend 57.3% of the total money on social policies

Outright rejection from opposition

Pablo Casado, the head of PP, Spain's main opposition party, criticized Spanish president Pedro Sánchez for not calling him after saying he was ready to negotiate, describing the budget as "tremendously bad and lethal for the interests of the Spanish economy."

Meanwhile , the secretary general of the opposition Cs party, José Manuel Villegas, regretted that Spaniards should have to experience the "humiliation" of the budget being decided in Waterloo, in reference to the meeting in Belgium between Torra and Puigdemont.