The move by president Quim Torra announcing the holding of an election in Catalonia on a date still to be decided once the Catalan government's budget has been passed, leaves the legislature agonising and forces the two parties in this political marriage, Together for Catalonia (JxCat) and the Republican Left (ERC), to carry on living together under the same roof after announcing their divorce. The crisis which was incubating since Monday's session of Parliament had so many script changes in 48 hours that this surely explains how, until the last minute, there was more than one option open, with changes as new players joined in with the negotiation. Thus, a proposal with quite wide support among JxCat ministers, to apply strong measures against vice president Pere Aragonès, such as a demotion, was left behind. A position that Torra also went along with in more than one conversation.
On Tuesday, with the political prisoners at Parliament, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Quim Forn all let the president know that they were against this step and that this was also the opinion of Jordi Sànchez. As well, they believed it imperative to pass the government budget and the imposition of a definitive election calendar should be forgotten. This was also the view of president in exile Puigdemont. With this background, it only remained for Torra to make a grandiose appearance which seemed to set the calendar, but in fact leaves the margin so wide that the election could be before the summer, but who knows whether it might take place in September, or even on a date as symbolic as October 1st. This is almost irrelevant at the moment and any speculation is just that, speculation.
In the coming months, JxCat and ERC will have to proceed with a far from amicable separation under a situation of even greater distrust than has existed in all of the legislature up till now. It won't be easy to avoid a recurrence of a conflict like that of this week, and the two parties will need to reach an armistice so as not to lose the current parliamentary majority in the Catalan chamber. The budget should provide breathing space, since finally getting it passed and putting an end to the situation endured since 2017, when the Catalan government's last public accounts were voted through, will be brought to an end. Moreover, it is an expansionist budget that will make it possible to correct the deficits that have built up in such important areas as health and education.
In the months ahead the negotiating table between the two governments, Spanish and Catalan, will also be set in motion, an authentic test of fire that may end up sending the result one way or the other in the next election, depending on how the talks progress. In any case, dialogue and judicialization are set to become two sides of the same strange coin, since, as we have seen, the various courts that have cases open against Catalan independence now have an added ingredient that could serve to destabilize the uncomfortable Sánchez-Iglesias government. That is why it is noteworthy that the first group to applaud Torra's decision to get the budget through and call an early election was Unidas Podemos. Even before Together for Catalonia.