The political accord between the Socialists (PSOE) and Podemos on the Spanish government budget, which the executive will present to Congress this month, facilitates its passage and leaves it ready to be passed, provided that the Catalan pro-independence parties back it. The decision of the Catalan government, ratified by the Catalan economy minister, Jaume Giró, to present the new Catalan executive's draft budget bill in November, also brings its accounts closer to being approved. Although in this case there is also uncertainty, because the pro-independence Popular Unity Candidature (CUP), after having made possible the swearing in of Pere Aragonès as president, has continued to behave more as an opposition party than an ally of the pro-independence government.
The fact that the Spanish state accounts and those of the Generalitat of Catalonia have similar calendars may end up giving oxygen to both governments, who need to get their budgets approved for two reasons: the stability of their respective executives and the adaptation of the public accounts to current needs. In the case of the Catalan government, it is even more urgent, since the electoral calendar over the last year - with Catalan elections on February 14th, followed by the negotiations for the investiture, the formation of the new government and its composition, led to the only logical choice at that point: extend the 2020 budget and focus on new accounts for 2022.
All the signs are that, in Spain, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) is ready to play its role as an ally of the PSOE-Podemos government and reach an agreement on the budget. Together for Catalonia (Junts), for the first time, may want to become part of the equation, because at least its starting position isn’t a 'not at the moment'. The two parties look at each other sideways and have clearly had different strategies, up till now, in Madrid. But the CUP factor remains present. What happens if the Catalan government finds itself with the dilemma of either withdrawing its draft budget or passing it with the help of the Catalan Socialists (PSC)? Could there be a viable path or is that so much of a minefield that it is better to abandon the idea? It is a question that the Aragonès executive may still have to ask itself sooner rather than later although, like all things in life, it has an answer that is difficult and, for some, unpleasant.
What would make no sense, and would simply embarrass the pro-independence parties would be to support the Sánchez government's budget by acting as an essential crutch in the Spanish Cortes in the absence of a parliamentary majority, and then to have to withdraw their own proposed accounts from the Catalan Parliament because it lacked support for them. That would be a really humiliating scenario.
The government must exhaust all negotiations with the CUP. But the anti-capitalist party must temper its proposals based on the nine deputies it has in comparison with the total of 65 seats held by ERC and Junts - and not the other way around. It can amend or refine some economic measures, but it cannot impose an alternative budget that ends up disfiguring the election results. Although it sometimes seems that the CUP plays more to exclude itself from the equation than to exert its influence, when it is this that should be the role of a party with so few seats.