The Catalan president, Quim Torra, and vice-president, Pere Aragonès, have tried to smooth over the image of a fracture between pro-independence parties JxCat and ERC given by yesterday's tensions in the Parliament. The two most senior officials in the Catalan executive held a meeting this morning in the Catalan government palace before appearing together in the Gothic gallery.
Torra insisted that the government is united and guaranteed that it will remain so "at least until the day of the sentence" against the politicians and activists charged for their roles in the independence push last year. Aragonès also said that the stability of the government is not in question, that the sentences will have an impact and that a decision will be taken in the Parliament when appropriate.
"We're days from seeing the prosecutors' indictment. This trial, this farce against the independence movement will have a moment here. The trial very clearly marks this legislature," he said.
The two politicians wanted to combat the image of division between the government partners, even including a comment in the statement they read that Torra has given Pedro Sánchez's government a "best before date" with this week's ultimatum. The meeting was agreed yesterday evening, even though there were already plans for the two to meet this lunchtime at the economy ministry.
Aragonès spoke first before the press, reading a joint statement admitting that the coordination mechanisms within the government are "improvable" and that, as such, they're joining forces "to strengthen the strategic agreement for the legislature". "Differences, in policy, are legitimate. As are those between partners in a government which has strategic unity in the executive and two voices in the Parliament. It's reasonable that different parties should have different plans to resolve difficulties. We're working together for better coordination before taking these plans to the Parliament," he said.
The statement says that the tension is a demonstration of the contradictions created by the complexity of the current situation and that the Parliament debate will restart as soon as possible. "We have a government programme designed to govern for everyone", continued Aragonès, who noted that they are committed to responding to the most immediate needs of the public at the same time as bringing about "the conditions for the people of Catalonia to be able to freely decide its future".
The texts says that the quarrel in the Parliament arose from decisions by the Spanish justice system, specifically the Supreme Court, and hence the agreement "has to be stronger, more solid, to be able to better resist attacks which will come from the Spanish courts". It will require, they say, more specific coordination mechanisms.
"Given everything, nor can we disassociate these exceptional situations from the extraordinarily complex and serious moment the country is going through," Torra continued. The statement says that the current political persecution is stronger than at any time since the Franco regime and recalls that it will soon be the first anniversary of the politicians and leaders going into prison and into exile. The president said that each step taken by his government is monitored by the Spanish state with a magnifying glass and that, despite the change in government, "it's not taken its foot off the pedal of repression".
In an implicit reference to yesterday's confrontation in the Catalan chamber, he emphasised that the plenary session has approved not accepting the suspension of the imprisoned and exiled deputies and that preserving the sovereignty of the Parliament is essential to continue moving forwards.
Torra said that the spirit of article 155 of the Constitution, used last year by the central government to intervene in Catalonia, remains alive and that the recovery of the institutions doesn't mean that democracy has been recovered. Financial intervention in Catalonia continues, as does the wish to deal with political matters through the courts and to alter the wishes expressed at the ballot boxes "by legal order".
"But our commitment to continue forwards is firm. It's a moment of maximum responsibility for everyone, to not take a single step backwards, to continue advancing tenaciously, consistently to raise the republic of 1st October," he said.
He admitted that it's clear they "have to renew the [government's] commitment" with Catalan society. "It's necessary for us to push ourselves to define more specifically the political strategy that has to be followed. We have to speak more between ourselves and the rest of the members of the pro-sovereignty family to outline a horizon and the path that will lead us there".
"When we've moved forwards we've done so all together, this is our commitment," he concluded.