The decision by Catalan president Pere Aragonès to exclude the Together for Catalonia (Junts) delegation from the so-called Table of Dialogue, Negotiation and Agreement because those nominated are not members of the Catalan government has opened a political crisis with consequences that are still difficult to assess. And even more difficult to explain, since neither the precedents from the only dialogue summit held to date, when Quim Torra was president, nor the summer speculation over the presence or not of Oriol Junqueras at the table, and nor Pedro Sánchez's comings and goings on his attendance at this Wednesday's meeting - not at the overture to the meeting, where he will be present - did not portend a crisis of this nature.
In any case, Aragonès has put his foot down, and doesn't accept that Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Turull, Jordi Puigneró and Míriam Nogueras are the representatives of Junts and he wants all four of those named - not only Puigneró - to be chosen from the ministers in the Generalitat government. Consequently, if Junts remains firm in its position, only members of the PSOE and Podemos, which are the two parties that make up the Spanish government, with their six ministers announced, and three Catalan ministers from the Republican Left (ERC), will attend the meeting. That's how things are at the time of writing on Tuesday night with everyone holding fast to their positions and the possibility of an even bigger crisis in the next few hours or days not ruled out.
It is not written down anywhere that the Catalan government delegation cannot include members who do not belong to the executive. Just a few days ago, I argued here that the delegation should have included members of ERC and Junts but also the CUP and the pro-independence NGOs, the ANC and Òmnium. And even some relevant figure outside the parties.
Whatever the case, a coalition government always has its pros and cons. You only have to look at Madrid to see the enormous differences between the positions of the PSOE and Podemos most of the time, but at the same time, they are able to rebuild strategies after each discrepancy. It is true that, in the Spanish capital, the Socialists control the lions' share of the executive and the alternative left party has a representation between junior and symbolic. In Catalonia this is not the case, as the two pro-independence parties continue to fight for hegemony with only a one-seat difference in the elections of February 14th and, perhaps because of this, comes the permanent contention they maintain, trading suspicious glances over everything. Last week, it was the expansion of Barcelona airport.
We will have to wait until after the dialogue table meeting this Wednesday to see what remains of the fisticuffs which ERC and Junts have shown each other and what margin there is - also, how much desire there is, much more important - to de-escalate the conflict, and what impact it has on the government. Aragonès has been categorical in placing the focus on a lack of trust and loyalty from his government partners. Jordi Sànchez played down the discrepancies as much as possible and blamed the Spanish executive for having vetoed its representatives, in an attempt to avoid undermining their government disagreement and to cool the tension with the Catalan president.
Today, if there is no news, the news will be the meeting and the presence of Pedro Sánchez at the Palau de la Generalitat. Perhaps for a few hours, the dispute between ERC and Junts will be set aside and the focus will be on the table and the statement that might be agreed on, as was done in the previous - and already distant - meeting.