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With just days - in theory at least - until the promised second meeting of the Catalonia-Spain dialogue table on the political conflict, the Republican Left (ERC) has urged its governing partner Together for Catalonia (Junts) to strengthen and give cohesion to the Catalan side. This was how ERC spokesperson Marta Vilalta responded to the criticism that the dialogue table has received from many Junts voices over the past few weeks.

"The table is essential. To those who denigrate it, we ask that they come on board so that we are as strong as possible and have the maximum cohesion," she said. "Let's not make it easy for the Spanish government. It's about challenging the opponent, not disdaining and discrediting the instrument that is being used [to make the challenge]," she said.

Vilalta claimed that the position of the Catalan government is "strong and powerful" because, in her opinion, it calls on everyone to take part - through a referendum. "The solution must take in what the majority of this country is calling for. The PSOE, Podemos, Mr Illa and the Spanish government also know this," she said. 

For all these reasons, the ERC leader insisted to her Catalan government partners that "we must not devote ourselves to weakening our own position." "We have to challenge the opponent who is facing us. Let's go with maximum strength and cohesion," she added, announcing that in the coming days "preparatory meetings will be accelerated."

Expansion of the airport

Asked about the expansion of Barcelona's El Prat airport, Vilalta made an appeal not to "simplify the debate." According to her, the question is not whether to expand the third runway or not, but "how to invest to improve the airport" without "tearing up the territory" and, by implication, protecting the threatened wetland space of the Ricarda Lagoon.

In fact, today, the spokesman for ERC on the Barcelona city council, Jordi Coronas, said that "in some form" the party will be present at the demonstration called on September 19th by several groups opposed to the extension of El Prat airport proposed by the Spanish state's airport operating company AENA.

Coronas asserted that his party agrees to turn the airport into a hub, "but without touching the Ricarda". "The airport cannot be given free rein", Coronas insisted,"because AENA's project is not Barcelona's project".

"Mr Illa should know that the Franco dictatorship was the worst thing that has happened to Catalonia": Marta Vilalta (ERC) responding to Catalan Socialist leader Salvador Illa's earlier assertion that Catalonia's last 10 years were "the worst of the last 300 years of Catalonia's history". 

The CUP, priority partners for budget vote

On next year's Catalan government budget, Vilalta insisted that the pro-independence CUP is the government's priority partner and downplayed any suggestion of the Socialists (PSC) supporting it. "If the PSC wants to support it, let them. But we see them far away from the four transformations [of our manifesto] and the political consensus in favour of an amnesty and self-determination," she said.

On the criticisms that the left-wing CUP have leveled at the government's management during its first 100 days, Vilalta minimized the claim, listing some of the agreements made in the investiture of the government that have already been launched: the creation of the office for a minimum basic income, the expansion of the basic income plan, the creation of commission to study the law and order model, and the millions of euros of the social rescue plan.


Main image: ERC spokesperson Marta Vilalta at this Monday's press conference / Photo: Marc Puig (ERC)