The Catalan Parliament approves the 2012 budget with the abstention of the People’s Party
As agreed, the PP abstained during the vote on the Catalan Government’s budget for 2012. The final text was approved with the 62 votes from CiU MPs, which controls the Catalan Government, the one vote from an independent MP, and the abstention of the PP. The rest of the parties have voted against it, in a tense plenary that has formalised the distance between the Government and the Left-Wing opposition parties. The details of some of the budget’s measures will have to be approved in one month, because three minority parties have asked for a “constitutionality” check.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Wednesday, the Catalan Parliament approved the Catalan Government\u2019s budget for 2012. The affirmative votes of the ruling Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition \u2018Convergència i Unió\u2019 (CiU), one vote from an independent MP, and the abstention of the Conservative People\u2019s Party (PP) have given the green light to the budget. The vote came as no surprise after both parties had reached a definitive agreement on Tuesday. The PP\u2019s leader in Catalonia, who is also the president of the PP parliamentary group, Alicía Sánchez-Camacho, justified the abstention \u201Cin order not to paralyse Catalonia\u201D. The insistence of Sánchez-Camacho to have the PP\u2019s contribution to the new budget recognised lead the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the CiU, Artur Mas, to praise the PP\u2019s \u201Cresponsibility\u201D. The rest of the parties have voted against the budget and have intensely criticised the agreement between CiU and the PP. They consider the approved law to be \u201Cunfair\u201D as it \u201Clacks equity\u201D. The annex law that details some of the measures included in the budget, which are always approved on the same day, will have to wait one month for its vote. Three minority parties have reached the minimum required to paralyse its approval and request the Council for Constitutional Guarantees (Consell de Garanties Estatutàries) to check it and state the law is in line with Catalonia\u2019s main law.
The total amount of the Catalan Government\u2019s budget, including funds for organisations from the public sector, represents \u20AC37.024 billion. The 2012 budget has reduced non-financial spending by 0.7% in total, compared to 2011. The Catalan Government stressed that this year\u2019s budget allocates 70% of the money to social policies (healthcare, education and social affairs). The Catalan Ministries with a smaller reduction of their budget in percentage points are Welfare and Family, Justice, Education, Health, and Home Affairs.
CiU\u2019s economic spokesperson, Emili Fernández Teixidor, stated during the Catalan Parliament\u2019s plenary that the budget to be approved was \u201Cthe budget to overcome the crisis, knock it down, and end with the crisis\u2019 worst side, the deadweight of unemployment\u201D. He also emphasised that the approved budget is based on CiU\u2019s electoral programme, and \u201Con several points the PP and CiU coincide\u201D.
The PP seeks recognition
The leader of the PP in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, who yesterday announced the details of the CiU-PP agreement, asked the Catalan President for explicit recognition of their role approving the budget. \u201CTell the truth\u201D, she said, \u201Cand admit the responsibility and loyalty\u201D of the PP. Sánchez-Camacho stated: \u201Cthat side of the Parliament\u2019s bench represents the country\u2019s past and this side the future\u201D, pointing firstly where the rest of the opposition parties sit (the largest three of which ran the Catalan Government from 2003 until 2010 through a three-party coalition) and, secondly, pointing at the side where the PP and CiU sit. She also insisted that the agreement between CiU and the PP \u201Cgoes beyond the budget\u201D and if the Government\u2019s road map is focused on recovering from the economic slowdown, the PP will stand by the Government.
The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, avoided giving too much recognition to the PP and vindicated his paternity of some of the measures and points included in the agreement, such as the tourist tax and the delay to implement it. However, Artur Mas recognised the PP\u2019s \u201Cresponsibility\u201D in approving the budget. Mas said that citizens have \u201Cawarded\u201D the parties playing \u201Cthe responsibility role\u201D. \u201CI admit the job we are doing might not be liked by everyone, but there are people that understand\u201D the need for it, he said.
A tense plenary, formalising the distance between the Left-Wing opposition parties and CiU
The parliamentary debate on the Catalan Budget has caused much tension. The Left-Wing opposition parties have intensely criticised CiU\u2019s agreement with the PP, and CiU has accused the opposition of being demagogical, not offering viable solutions, and not representing the majority of Catalan citizens.
The main opposition party, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), asked Mas \u201Cto tell the truth\u201D and \u201Cto recognise his sins\u201D, \u201Cto recognise he has a stable and solid agreement\u201D with the PP for his entire term in office. The Economic Spokesperson for the PSC in the Catalan Parliament, Rocío Martínez-Sampere, defended voting against the budget because \u201Cit is not fair, it is not equitable, and not efficient\u201D. According to the PSC, the budget \u201Cdismantles public services in Catalonia\u201D. \u201CThe most nationalist CiU in history has reached an agreement with the most centralist PP in history\u201D, she added, insisting that they have formed a \u201CCentre-Right\u201D coalition.
The Spokesperson for the Catalan Green Socialist and Former Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA), Joan Boada, was even more critical. Boada accused the Government of being \u201Cobsessed with budget cuts\u201D. He said the Government has only managed to reduce the deficit by 0.5% and has caused \u201Cpain\u201D to citizens. \u201CYou have turned into bloodsuckers, sucking the blood out of the Welfare State until it is too thin\u201D, he said.
The Spokesperson for the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), Sergi de los Ríos, wondered how the Catalan Government and CiU could reach an agreement with the PP and put aside the claim for a better fiscal agreement between Catalonia and Spain. De los Ríos thinks the budget \u201Cprolongs Catalonia\u2019s agony\u201D.
The two minority parties forming the mixed group and representing opposite ideas coincided for once by criticising the budget. The leader of the Spanish Nationalist and Populist \u2018Ciutadans\u2019, Albert Rivera, stated that the Catalan Government wanted to reduce the deficit by \u201Cstepping on citizens\u2019 rights\u201D. Besides, the Spokesperson of the Catalan Independence and Populist \u2018Solidaritat per la Independència\u2019, Uriel Bertran, stated that \u201CCatalonia is a nation\u201D but that with this agreement \u201Cit turns into a region asphyxiated by the Spanish State\u201D, since the budget \u201Cperpetuates Catalonia\u2019s fiscal deficit\u201D.