The acting Minister of the Presidency, the socialist Félix Bolaños, has considered this Thursday “very legitimate” the proposal launched by the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu (PNV), who in an article in EL PAÍS proposes a pact between the State and the “nationalities historical” (Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia) to change the Spanish territorial model. “It seems to me a very legitimate proposal that I value (…) Not being our proposal, I think that everything that implies contributions to the debate is always positive: to have a debate that is constructive, where everyone is aware that we have each other to understand between different ones,” said Bolaños. Pilar Alegría, spokesperson for the PSOE and Minister of Education, has pointed out, however, that “the best territorial model that our country has is endorsed in the Constitution and in the different statutes of autonomy.” The acting first vice president, Nadia Calviño, has stressed that the coordination of the country can always be “improved.”
Urkullu’s proposal comes when the PNV and the rest of the nationalist and independence parties are negotiating with the PSOE the future investiture of the socialist Pedro Sánchez. The lehendakari proposes a pact between the State and the “historical nationalities” that would consist of recognizing the “plurinational” character of Spain and the “ability to decide” of those territories. Once that commitment was sealed, within a year a “constitutional convention” would be convened, a political body whose objective would be to “interpret” the Constitution to find a way to expand self-government and the “historical rights” of the three territories. The proposal has been highly criticized by Marta Rovira, general secretary of Esquerra, who has posted a message on the Internet completely distancing herself from the Lehendakari’s proposal: “From the Basque economic agreement, with trains that must work and the protection of the jurisdictions , proposals for constitutional reflection must be able to be made (?!). But in Catalonia there is a social and political majority to go further: amnesty, self-determination and social progress!”
The PP, which also needs the PNV for the investiture of Alberto Núñez Feijóo although the Basque party has already said that it will not support it, has reacted to Urkullu’s proposal with more coldness. “Anything that there are some first-class Spaniards and others second, the PP is not going to accept it, and from there the PP is not going to move,” said Elías Bendodo, general coordinator of the party, in La Sexta. The spokesman for the PP, Borja Sémper, has stated in SER: “I think that before reinterpreting the Constitution, what must be done is to recover it. We have to recover constitutional principles.” Sémper added that the content of Urkullu’s article did not sound new to him, although he considered it good news that the approach was made “within the Constitution”. “That is a notable difference with respect to the Catalan independentists,” he stressed. In any case, he has pointed out, the problems of Basque citizens “are others”, as in the rest of the autonomous communities: the lack of operating rooms or the deficiencies of the educational system. “I would much rather have us talk about these things. There is no problem in Euskadi with Spain,” he diagnosed.
The article with which the lehendakari requests a territorial pact to reinterpret the Constitution has generated diverse political reactions this Thursday morning. The Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, has been more explicit in assuring that he saw the proposal as “very legitimate”, even if it was not that of the Executive. “It seems to me a very legitimate proposal that I value (…) of course I always value very positively all the proposals that are made to find points of balance, points of agreement, between different within the constitutional framework, which is what it proposes the lehendakari”, he declared in an attention to journalists, before visiting the exhibition The Spanish intellectual exile in Puerto Rico, at the National Library, in Madrid. “It is always positive to have a constructive debate where everyone is aware that we have to understand each other”, he added.
One of the first to speak out about Urkullu’s claims was the socialist spokesperson, Pilar Alegría, in an interview on the TVE program La Hora de la 1. “The best territorial model is endorsed in the Constitution and in the different statutes of autonomy,” she stated. Alegría has also stressed that one of the “most important” tools to be able to deploy autonomy is achieved through regional financing and has recalled the work of the Executive in improving co-governance channels, something that, in his words, “opens a stage” for the new legislature. Regarding the holding of the convention within a year, the socialist spokesperson has assured: “This meeting, if it has to be held, will be held with the next government and it will be necessary to know what the content is.”
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The first vice president, Nadia Calviño, considered it premature to comment on the proposal seen “today” in an article, although she acknowledged that she was not surprised. “It is evident that nationalist parties have a series of requirements and a series of proposals and I believe that there is always the capacity to improve how our systems work,” she assessed in SER. “In these years we have consolidated the conference of presidents, which was an institution that was not used in previous governments and has been tremendously useful to coordinate the action of those institutions that have powers, for example, in health matters, because we have to continue advancing to improve the coordination of this country of ours that has enormous decentralization,” he added.
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