A new session of the Catalan Parliament, and a new demonstration of the isolation of the single-colour Catalan Republican Left (ERC) government. Despite the fact that until now the executive has been able to operate without the rest of the parliamentary groups having put up many obstacles since the break-up of the coalition executive a little over a month ago, ERC has not been able to prevent the other parties from putting up fierce opposition in the Catalan chamber. This Thursday was also the case, when the Republicans had to face what was, arguably, the most awkward obstacle yet. It was a motion in which the Parliament noted "the loss of confidence" towards the president of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, despite ERC's attempts to avoid it.
It was not a fully-fledged motion of non-confidence - which could instantly change the government if passed, as it did with the Spanish government in 2018, but which no opposition party has dared to present - nor is it a question of confidence, which only president Aragonès himself can present, despite some complaints over the last few weeks. But it was the closest thing possible to the latter. The motion, presented by Together for Catalonia (Junts), served to show the solitary situation of the president and his party, and to bring together the 102 votes that are against him. "The Parliament of Catalonia notes the loss of confidence of the parliamentary majority that allowed the investiture of the president of the Generalitat of Catalonia at the beginning of the legislature," was the wording of the brief motion. ERC ended up abstaining, with Ciudadanos and the People's Party. All the other parties supported it, except Vox, which decided not to participate in the vote.
Junts goes for the throat; ERC responds
The motion, and the debate it sparked between Junts and ERC, were the main event on today's parliamentary agenda. Junts spokesman Josep Rius gave a forceful critique of his former coalition colleagues, calling the current government "weak" and accusing it of having been abandoned, losing the support of 41 deputies "in record time". Thus, he criticized its inability to fulfill agreements made with Junts and the CUP at the time of forming the government in 2021, but nor had it been able to work with the PSC and the Comuns. In response to this, he advised ERC on what it should do. "Democratic regimes have measures to prove their situation, but despite this the government and the president continue to talk about instability", he said, after the executive had rejected any question of confidence. "Since when does democratic control generate instability? On the contrary, it only generates trust among citizens", he claimed, acknowledging, however, the low probability that Aragonès will end up submitting his presidency to the confidence of the chamber on his own accord.
In fact, this is just what the ERC spokesperson warned. Marta Vilalta responded on behalf of the Republican group (Pere Aragonès avoided the plenary during this debate) to protest at how Junts had not wanted to accept the ERC proposals to modify the motion. Thus, she celebrated the work of the executive since the departure of Junts, rejecting any path other than the continuity of the single-colour ERC government. "You say that confidence has been lost, okay. And what do we do? Elections? An alternative no-confidence motion?" she asked. "We will not be part of these irresponsible proposals." Vilalta backed the work being done by the Republicans and tried to reach out to Junts for its support despite having left the government, even if it is "measure by measure and bill by bill". "The majority that allowed the government to form has been ruptured, it's true, but we want to put it back together." However, the offer was followed by fierce criticism of Junts that culminated in a harsh accusation: "With this motion we see that their parliamentary objectives consist of nothing but wearing down ERC".
The PSC, the CUP and the Comuns did not hold back either, and they also took positions against the executive. For her part, Socialist spokesperson Alicia Romero asked what ERC and the government want to do. "Do they want to continue in the minority, without passing laws and motions, governing with their backs to Parliament? Without any construction or dialogue?", she questioned, also claiming the need to negotiate and pass the budget. CUP deputy Dolors Sabater took the opportunity to demand that the Republicans abandon the strategy of dialogue with the State, reiterating her loss of confidence because they have abandoned the principles of the legislature agreement. And the spokesman for the Comuns, David Cid, regretted that the executive has not fulfilled some of the most important points of the budget agreement for this 2022. "And now, what?" he asked. "What will the government do? What do they propose for Catalonia?"