The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, during the institutional message of the 2023 Generalitat Day
The negotiation of the amnesty as a bargaining chip for the possible investiture of Pedro Sánchez has featured in a large part of the official message of the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, on the occasion of the national day of Catalonia this Sunday. The leader of the Republicans, however, has gone further and has asked Junts to join forces in the current arithmetic of Congress and thus force the PSOE and Sumar to begin “immediately” a “new phase of the negotiation” where recognize the right to self-determination.
“The amnesty alone does not resolve the sovereignty conflict,” Aragonès said in a pre-recorded message for the Diada from the headquarters of the Institute of Catalan Studies, in the center of Barcelona. “Catalonia wants to vote freely on independence and until the State responds to this democratic demand, the conflict will exist,” the head of the Government has warned.
The traditional intervention arrives on a September day marked not by the once very high citizen effervescence towards the independence bid, but by the belligerence of the main organizing entity, the Catalan National Assembly, against the pactist path in Congress to which it now also Junts per Catalunya has joined. Last year Esquerra drew the whistles for defending the negotiated path and now it is Junts that attracts all the attention by having the key to governability.
Aragonès has used the address to ask his former Junts partners for the umpteenth time to join efforts with ERC. The objective is to make the most of the 14 pro-independence votes in the negotiations that will officially open once Alberto Núñez Feijóo fails, presumably, in his attempt to be inaugurated, on the 27th. The “new phase of negotiation focused exclusively on the substance of the conflict,” he explained, requires “adding complicities,” “aligning strategies” and “internally agreeing on an inclusive proposal on how the citizens of Catalonia should vote.”
Until now, these types of mutual invitations to agree on the conditions to negotiate eventual support for the investiture have not been fruitful, and each party seems to follow its own path. Hence, the head of the Government has also used his speech to highlight the achievements of Esquerra in the last legislature, such as the pardons or the reform of the Penal Code, which Junts relativizes. “Four years ago, in a situation similar to the current one, we were able to get the political prisoners out. And today, with the strength we have as a country, we can make amnesty possible.”
The Republican has also recalled the conditions under which his party has already opened to agree with Sánchez. In addition to amnesty and self-determination, those led by Oriol Junqueras demand measures such as the transfer of Rodalies (the Catalan Cercanías) and the end of the fiscal deficit.
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The holding of a referendum on the independence of Catalonia is the biggest of the red lines of the Executive now in office led by Pedro Sánchez. Actively and passively, practically all ministers have ruled out that possibility, arguing that it is unconstitutional. The issue was part of the agenda that ERC wanted to develop at the dialogue table that it agreed with the PSOE at the beginning of the last legislature, but it was never expressly addressed, both parties admit. For now, in the ranks of Junts and ERC they have avoided placing this demand as all or nothing in the face of possible support for Sánchez, but they emit signals of different frequency that the consultation must be addressed inevitably.
Esquerra insists that the dialogue table must continue in the next mandate, and Aragonès has rescued his proposal for a clarity agreement, which he outlined in his speech a year ago. This agreement is the roadmap for what the agreed referendum should be like, but without imposing dates and calendars. Imitating what happened in Quebec, Scotland and Montenegro, the Republicans want to bring those internally pre-agreed conditions to that negotiation that the Government refuses to open.
In an interview with El Periódico de Catalunya, the president announced that the group of experts who were entrusted with a report on the clarity agreement are now ready and the conclusions will be known this month. Aragonès promises that he will make them public and take a position. Subsequently, according to the Executive’s initial plan, the participatory process with entities and citizens for the proposal would begin. Junts has always despised that plan and there is nothing to suggest that it now agrees to it.
“I would like to differentiate what the negotiation of an investiture is, which is between parties, from the fact that, if it ends up offering the possibility of addressing the resolution of the conflict, then we all have to be here,” he told the Catalan newspaper. And he issued a warning to Junts: “Whoever negotiates on behalf of Catalonia what affects its political status is the Government.”
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