They did it first with the election of the presidency of Congress, then with the investiture of Pedro Sánchez and, now, with the anti-crisis decree that the Government is trying to validate this Wednesday. The seven Junts deputies once again put the Executive in check on the eve of a key vote that they will once again push to the limit. After hours of negotiation against the clock and at the highest level this Tuesday with the PSOE, at the end of the day those of Carles Puigdemont continued in the same position outlined in recent days: rejecting the Government’s package of measures that includes the revaluation of pensions, free public transport or the reduction of VAT on basic foods, among other things.
“We trust that we have the support to approve these decrees. What is truly important is the content, the measures to improve people’s lives,” the Government spokesperson, Pilar Alegría, defended at a press conference after the Council of Ministers. The Minister of Education also avoided any public clash with the Catalan independentists, whom she nevertheless urged, together with all parliamentary forces, to say yes to the Executive’s texts. “Approving these decrees means saying yes to 11 million pensioners receiving 52 euros more per month, that is to say yes to young people and workers being able to use free public transport, that is to say yes to continuing to create jobs, that is to say yes to 0% VAT on basic foods,” he added.
Privately, no one in the PSOE or in the Government was capable this Tuesday of ensuring how the intrigue imposed by Junts will end this time. The negotiation continued throughout the day to try to avoid the image that Carles Puigdemont’s men would derail such important legislative measures at the first opportunity and after the socialists had assumed the wear and tear of such a committed Catalan agenda, with the amnesty. or the verifier as main milestones.
There are those who did not rule out Ferraz that the green light could arrive at the last minute and the furniture could be saved in extremis as on previous occasions. Although these same sources admit that, in any case, the permanent wear and tear to which the independence supporters subject Pedro Sánchez’s Government in any vote is not a sustainable scenario four years from now.
The truth is that Junts has once again imposed an agonizing negotiation in which from the beginning it has maintained a maximum position: that the Government withdraw all the decrees to renegotiate them from scratch. The pro-independence party also argues that the Executive should generally avoid “Macedonian” initiatives in which it mixes several issues, and make a decree for each of the issues it wants to approve.
He has also demanded to be able to negotiate the texts even before they leave the Council of Ministers in order to obtain compensation such as fines for companies that do not return to Catalonia. Junts sources recognize that this issue, which generated a stir this Tuesday, is not necessarily a minimum condition, but it is a request that the party has now put back on the Government’s table and that it will not stop demanding even if it does not achieve it in this moment.
The PSOE’s offer has focused on the possibility of processing the decrees as bills, an option that does not convince the pro-independence supporters because it forces them to vote in favor of the text first. “If this has worked in other legislatures with other parties, it will no longer work with us,” they say in a very thinly disguised allusion to ERC, from whom Junts constantly seeks to distance itself.
Carles Puigdemont’s party has given all kinds of reasons to oppose the decrees. For example, they consider that Catalonia receives only 10% of European funds to digitalize justice, when they understand that it should reach 16%. “They aggravate the underfinancing of the Generalitat,” they say. They also believe that some measures invade powers or are simply not to their taste, such as the increase in VAT on the energy bill.
Regarding the limits of regional powers, it was the Government of the Generalitat itself, in the hands of ERC, who left Junts with the wrong foot on Tuesday. “The legal services of the Generalitat have examined the decrees and assure that there is no invasion of jurisdiction,” said the spokesperson for the Executive, Patricia Plaja, who added that, on the economic issue, Economy always looks at the distribution of European funds to claim compensation in the case that there is harm to Catalonia.
It is the Catalan Executive, therefore, who denies Junts’ main arguments to oppose the initiatives, which it neither considers that they invade regional powers, nor that they represent an economic grievance from the outset, nor that they paralyze the development of the amnesty law. On the contrary, the Government of Pere Aragonès considers that they incorporate many economic measures beneficial to Catalans, including the transfer to the Generalitat of the minimum vital income (IMV), a measure highly pursued from Catalonia.
But the issue that has made Junts hold its sword high against these decrees has to do, above all, with the incorporation of article 43 bis in the law of civil procedure. According to the independentistas, the Government is trying to “make itself forgiven” by the judges with a reform that would make it easier for the “judicial leadership” to delay the effectiveness of the amnesty.
As it stands now, the law of civil procedure allows that, when a court refers a preliminary question to the Court of Justice of the European Union, it can suspend all its proceedings related to the dispute in question. But, with the new wording, this suspension becomes mandatory for the court that raises it, while allowing any other court to also adopt it if it has a dispute of the same nature.
However, this suspension is already, in practice, what the vast majority of the courts that brought matters to European justice agree to. This is, in fact, the argument of ERC and even the Government, which this Tuesday came out to refute all of Junts’ arguments one by one. “They are necessary decrees about which no gestures should be made,” said spokesperson Plaja.
We can also keep the pulse
The parliamentary reality of the Government is so complex that, even if it resolved the negotiation with Junts at the last minute, it would still not have guaranteed votes. The break between Podemos and Sumar paints a new scenario in each of the votes and, in fact, those of Ione Belarra claim to be determined to keep the pulse and not facilitate the approval of two of the three decrees if PSOE and Sumar do not accept their proposals. “ Podemos is not going to vote in favor of any cuts,” said the party’s general secretary at a press conference in Congress.
After the breakup with Yolanda Díaz, the purple formation focuses precisely on the Labor decree that modifies the unemployment benefit, negotiated in December between the Díaz department and the Economy. Podemos maintains that the decree that modifies the subsidy represents a cut for people over 52 years of age, something that both Sumar and the Ministry led by Yolanda Díaz have made efforts these days to deny.
Belarra’s party maintains that they sent their proposals to the PSOE on Friday to modify the decree (they also propose adding a limitation on rent and food increases to the anti-crisis package), but without a response. They also opened a path with the Ministry of Labor. Sources from the second vice presidency assure that this Tuesday they sent all parties a proposal to convert the decrees into law proposals and negotiate the amendments there. But first they should vote ‘yes’ this Wednesday in Congress.
Although both parties defend that they are open to negotiation, the positions remain entangled in the struggle over the story of whether the changes in the subsidy are a cut or not. Podemos sources affirm that they would be open to voting in favor of the decree only if the PSOE and Sumar clearly commit to including the modification in this future bill, something that until late on Tuesday they denied had occurred.
“Let’s think about the families who would not understand that a decree that in this case improves the protection of the most vulnerable people would decline,” said Sumar’s spokesperson in Congress, Marta Lois, on Tuesday. Some arguments that are also supported by sources from the socialist parliamentary group. Only Compromís has distanced itself from that position and has asked the PSOE for “responsibility” to “agree and negotiate” with Podemos and Junts. “The key is to agree and that is what the Government has to do,” said Sumar’s deputy spokesperson, Águeda Micò.
Podemos also wants to introduce changes to the package of anti-crisis measures. They ask that the Government include a 2% cap on the annual revaluation of rents (this year it is 3%) and a freeze on new contracts for the duration of the decree, as well as a 2% limit on rent increases. the prices of a basic food basket. The first measures were part of the negotiation with the PSOE for the Housing Law last year, which came out of the Council of Ministers with the signature of Belarra, and that of food, a proposal that the PSOE refused during the legislature. happened with Podemos in the Government.