Disagreements between pro-independence parties JxCat and ERC have this morning exploded with full force in the Catalan Parliament. JxCat's wish to leave Carles Puigdemont out of the temporary suspension of parliamentary deputies called for by judge Llarena has caused the greatest tensions seen between the two parties since the start of Quim Torra's presidency. The criticisms and accusations grew in intensity in the Parliament's corridors throughout the morning and ended up being aired publicly from the podium in the press room this afternoon. JxCat accused ERC of "obsessively" wanting to push Puigdemont aside, whilst ERC has accused JxCat of lying.
JxCat sources claims there was an agreement reached this Tuesday "at the highest level" which limited the temporary suspension of the deputies to the two days of the imminent plenary session and which exempted Puigdemont entirely. They say that the pact was down to vice-president Pere Aragonès (ERC) and presidency minister Elsa Artadi (JxCat).
The sources say that the Parliament's speaker, Roger Torrent (ERC), made a proposal this morning which doesn't include the limiting of the suspensions to the remaining two days of the plenary session, nor different treatment of the cases of the prisoners and the exiles, as they had agreed. They also criticise Torrent for using a break in today's meeting of the chamber's governing board to agree the proposal with PSC without telling JxCat.
ERC deny this, saying that until this morning no proposal had yet been settled on. They say that the different responses by the JxCat members of the board show that the discrepancy is, in fact, within Puigdemont's group itself. When Torrent's proposal was put to a vote, Josep Costa voted against, but Eusebi Campdepadrós abstained. JxCat attribute the discrepancy to confusion caused by the last-minute change to the proposal.
Torra and Aragonès met this morning to discuss the situation in the president's office in the Parliament. Government sources say they've tried to rebuild the agreement, but sources close to the vice-president insist there was no prior agreement to rebuild.
Leaders from the two parties and Torra, Aragonès and Torrent themselves were seen coming and going around the Parliament all morning between constant meetings, the visible face of the division.
The deputies closest to Puigdemont were talking of "political blackmail" and accusing ERC of pursuing a strategy with Torrent and Aragonès, one playing a tougher role, the other more conciliatory, with the ultimate aim of "pushing Puigdemont aside".
This accusation has been supported by sources close to Torra who described: "the paradox of ERC obsessively wanting to suspend Puigdemont, taking into account that the absolute majority in the Parliament, with the votes of ERC included, voted to invest him [president] when possible".
The accusations and counter-accusations burst into the public eye in appearances in the press room. JxCat deputies Albert Batet, Eduard Pujol and Gemma Geis accused Torrent of dropping the agreement they'd reached to immediately negotiate with PSC.
For ERC, Sergi Sabrià responded immediately from the same podium, visibly annoyed, accusing JxCat of lying and wanting to hide their internal disagreements by blaming ERC. "What just happened is very serious", said Sabrià of JxCat's public criticism of his party.
"Today trust clearly been broken and we will fight to rebuild it again. We will fight to resolve these differences which have occurred in the parliament," said Sabrià.