Catalonia is to have a budget and that on its own is good news. An expansive budget, for which the government of the Republican Left (ERC) has had to make concessions it didn't want and wait for longer than it thought would be necessary to adapt to the timing set by the Socialists (PSC). President Pere Aragonès thus achieves not only a legislative project which is key in any normal country, but also avoids the Sword of Damocles of having to face a Catalan election around the next corner, given the slim margin that the current minority government has, with only 33 MPs in a house of 135. The Socialists leave their mark on the new budget by imposing their emblematic projects of the Fourth Beltway or Ronda del Vallès and the Hard Rock leisure project and, in a much more nuanced way, the plan to expand the Barcelona-El Prat airport - the document talks about modernization of the airport - but, in the end, however you look at it, a budget constitutes a card that, when played, always benefits the current government most.
After three months of negotiations between Republicans and Socialists, with multiple ups and downs and moments when it seemed that agreement was not going to be attained, president Aragonès can breathe much more easily. It was not like in 2010, 2013, 2016, 2018 and 2019, when the previous year's budget had to be extended due to the lack of a parliamentary majority that would support the accounts proposal of the Generalitat. A situation experienced by presidents Artur Mas, Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra. Nor did it happen as for the 2022 budget, which, exceptionally, was passed in the proper way and on time for the only time since 2009 by minister Jaume Giró, to come into force on January 1st of that year, but it was already known that the decision by Together for Catalonia (Junts) to abandon the Catalan government last October would have two radically different consequences for ERC. It lost 32 votes, those of Junts, which had placed the government not far short of an absolute majority in Parliament, but it gained cohesion in government, muting the noise of the differences between the two parties and given it all the pieces of the government puzzle to distribute among its own people, in addition to sending its principal electoral rival into the shadows.
And it is to Aragonès's credit that he has managed to push through the budgets for both of the two years he has been president, even though he needed different majorities to do so. When initially invested as president, it was with the support of Junts and the far-left, pro-independence CUP; the first budget was with Junts and the alternative-left Commons; and this year's with the PSC and the Commons. It is obvious that nothing remains of that parliamentary investiture, which responded more to the 52% of votes that were for pro-independence parties - and to the pressure of that exceptional results by the independence movement - than to a good understanding between the political parties that represent it. The budget certifies this reality although the true litmus test was not the issue of the public accounts but the rupture of the governing coalition last October.
Nor does Junts have the ability to swing the wheel in the direction that most interests it when explaining itself to public opinion. The party left the government in a hastily-made decision, the result of the obstacles created by ERC combined with a lack of the political strength that is essential in any coalition government. And, without a road map, it went over to the opposition side without, so far, having found the political profile that it should assume in a situation as complex as Catalonia's, where one part of politics is connected to the repression but another, also important, has to do with the everyday needs of ordinary people, the creation of wealth and the difficulties of making ends meet. Because it is not the same to do the politics of, say, Xavier Trias, as to do that of Laura Borràs. One is at the antipodes of the other and, perhaps, before going over to the opposition in Catalonia as only the second largest party on that side of the house, behind the PSC, Junts should have designed the type of opposition it intended to present, rather than jumping straight in.