After a morning of uncertainty and annoyance, the Republican Left (ERC) has reacted positively to the way out of the Catalan government crisis that has been found by president Quim Torra. In a statement, ERC said it "respects" the decision by Torra to prioritize the government budget and set up the agreed Spain-Catalonia negotiating table with Madrid - and then to call elections. In fact, ERC leaders say they share the "principal conclusions" reached by the president, who is parliamentary leader of the other government partner, Together for Catalonia (JxCat). "Catalonia urgently needs a budget", stated ERC, and it also has to "activate the political path" of negotiation with the Spanish state.
In a short written statement, the Republican Left asserted it would continue to "work as at present on all fronts in the service of the entire independence movement" to "continue moving, with loyalty and responsibility, towards the Catalan Republic". In this regard, the party added that it would do so "with a clear strategy that benefits the country as a whole", "defending and guaranteeing" that the institutions are used as a "useful tool in the service of the people" and also "being clear that the adversary is none other than the state and [its] repression."
The statement made no mention of the harsh accusations made by the Catalan president during his statement, in which he accused ERC of disloyalty, and of having abandoned the Catalan presidency "to the elements".
Hours on the cliff-edge
The current position stands in stark contrast to that of a few hours before, when the Republican Left leadership were voicing their concern about not knowing the president's plans beforehand and having to find out through the media. In addition, they recalled that in a coalition government, decisions had to be made "consensually" and warned that if Torra made a unilateral decision, they would feel "free" to make their "own decisions". Ultimately, however, Torra's announcement was in line with what ERC was advocating earlier this week.
Throughout the morning, the party leadership held several meetings at its Barcelona headquarters to analyze scenarios. The senior leaders taking part included Catalan vice president Pere Aragonès, parliamentary speaker Roger Torrent, and government ministers such as Ester Capella, Teresa Jordà, Alba Vergés and Alfred Bosch. On the way out, shortly before 2pm, none of them wished to respond to the press on the situation.
The budget, rescheduled yet again
The announcement late on Tuesday night that president Quim Torra would make an institutional statement this Wednesday morning, in the midst of open division between the two government partners over the loss of Torra's status as an MP, took ERC by surprise and forced a change of plans. Aragonès had been planning to present the draft budget at a scheduled government meeting for its approval on Wednesday morning, then submit it to Parliament.
First thing in the morning, awaiting a message from Torra and with uncertainty on the future of the government, all of this had to be called off. Finally, the cabinet meeting was rescheduled this afternoon, after Torra had announced that first the public accounts will be presented to parliament, and then, Catalonia will go to an election.