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The president of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, has assured that the budget pact with the Catalan Socialists (PSC) "reinforces the central role of the government and the legislative project" of its Republican Left (ERC) executive. The president, who appeared in the Gothic gallery of the Palau de la Generalitat minutes before his cabinet met this morning to formally approve the new budget, rejected the idea that this agreement with the Socialists would dilute the 52% pro-independence vote reflected in the composition of Parliament, and he made a new call to the other main pro-independence party Together for Catalonia (Junts) to join the agreement over the accounts.

Aragonès reiterated that the government "has a vocation to reach major agreements" and that, when Junts put an end to what had been a pro-independence governing coalition, he made it clear at the time that his executive would make its way through the legislature by reaching agreements with the different parliamentary parties one by one. "This is a budget agreement, not a legislative one", he repeated on different occasions.

"The 52% will not be diluted"

Faced with the jolt that this agreement with the unionist PSC entails for the pro-independence bloc, he assured that "the fact of passing the budget does not mean that the 52% will be diluted". "We are prepared to go through with all the initiatives so that Catalonia can decide its future again, in the most democratic way possible, and for that reason I presented my clarity agreement", he argued.

The president restated, every time he had the opportunity, his call for Junts to join the pact with the Socialists. According to Aragonès, Junts's support for the budget "should not only be possible but is absolutely desirable". In this regard, he emphasized that the first talks to incorporate the Socialist party into the budget were initiated by a Junts minister - referring to Jaume Giró, in charge of the portfolio before the coalition collapse - and that Junts has reached an accord with the PSC on the last four budgets of Barcelona's provincial Diputació. "If this was possible, if the talks with the PSC began when they had the responsibility for the economy ministry and if some of the elements of the infrastructure agreement were also put on the table by Junts, then they have no reason not to vote for the budget", he replied, despite stipulating that what the Government will not do is "lower taxes for the richest in Catalonia at a time of increased cost of living for many families".

Ill-feeling in ERC

Regarding the ill-feeling that could have been caused across parts of Catalonia by the fact that ERC has given in to the demands of the PSC on major infrastructures, such as the Fourth Beltway and the airport, he stressed that the Republicans will be faithful to the agreement with the Socialists, but said that the elected officials of the party have their hands free, and "will be faithful to what they have always defended", given that these situations are caused by the need to settle the budget.

According to Aragonès, today the government has approved the most ambitious, expansive budget that includes the most investments, most strengthens public services, has the most transformative vocation and best responds to the needs of the public. "The 2023 budget is not just another budget, it is a budget for the country, because it has been drawn up and receives the support of the main economic agents and because it has the necessary parliamentary political support. Support that we want to strengthen in the approval process that begins today", he replied.