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Last month, the three Catalan pro-independence parties along with left-wing En Comú Podem and the Catalan Socialists (PSC) signed an agreement to isolate the far-right Vox party, which for the first time gained representation in the Catalan Parliament in the February 14th elections. The second point of that cordon sanitaire accord stated that "whenever possible" the parties would try to avoid "the presence of far-right groups in appointments over which Parliament has power." This section has ended up motivating a division between the original signatories and the PSC has ended up distanced from the others. The fracture was seen this Thursday in Parliament.

ERC, Junts, the CUP and Comuns have built on that document signed two months ago with two motions to be put to Parliament. The initiatives called for the creation of a commission to study institutional racism in Catalonia, as well as a series of measures to protect Parliament from hate speech. The text "reaffirms the vocation of the chamber to continue as a space of liberty and political confrontation, ideas and dialogue" and calls to "promote a reform of the regulation to guarantee this protection against hate speech and discrimination". The proposals will not be entered in the register until Tuesday, in order to give the PSC another opportunity to join. So far, they have distanced themselves. "We share the goal, but not the strategy," maintain the Socialists. “You have to act intelligently,” they argue, to avoid making the far right grow. 

The senator of discord

The PSC warns of the risk of not braking but instead fueling Vox who, they recall, use claims that they are victimized to increase their support at the polls. And they argue the same line in the other issue that is pressuring the wall against Vox, which has also emerged this week: the Catalan Parliament's appointment of eight senators to represent Catalonia in the Senate - the Spanish upper house, whose members are partly directly-elected and partly appointed by the Autonomous Parliaments.

The regulations stipulate that the Catalan Parliament's Parties Committee must decide the number of senators which each parliamentary group is entitles to based on the results obtained in the elections. On that basis, Vox, fourth largest party at the polls on Feburary 14th, would have one seat. The intention of the pro-independence parties and the Comuns is to join forces to prevent Parliament from sending a far-right representative to the Senate. However, the pro-independence groups acknowledge that they are looking for legal mechanisms to clarify whether or not this will be feasible.

Parliamentary lawyers expressed their doubts at the Bureau meeting on Tuesday. And in this regard, there is a relevant precedent: the parliamentary veto against the PSC's Miquel Iceta in 2019, when the pro-independence parties overturned his appointment in the plenary vote. The Socialist leader ended up taking the case to the Constitutional Court, but the appeal lapsed because the PSC instead decided to propose an alternative candidate. In any case, the difference is that then it was not questioned whether the Senator place would go to the PSC, but rather, the veto was for the specific person. Now, however, the goal would be to keep out anyone representing the far-right agenda of Vox.


In the main image, Vox deputies at the entrance to the Catalan Parliament. / S. Alcazar