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The session dedicated to the Covid-19 pandemic this Thursday afternoon in the Catalan Parliament has once again highlighted the differences between the two partners in the Spanish coalition government. The Catalan Socialists (PSC) and En Comú Podem are pursuing clearly-opposed solutions in the deadlock between the pro-independence parties ERC and Junts: the PSC wants candidate Pere Aragonès (ERC) to step aside; while the Comuns want to make him president - although in exchange for "sending Junts to the opposition."

In a second part of this morning's debate, the Socialist candidate, Salvador Illa, again asked Aragonés to step aside, by doing "something that is the most normal thing in European democracies: allowing whoever has won the elections to go to the chamber to and try to win its confidence." 

In this regard, Illa criticised ERC for the declaration he signed during the election campaign - promising not to facilitate a Socialist-led government in Catalonia - yet, says the PSC  leader, at the same time he defends political dialogue. “How can this dialogue be practiced with vetoes?” asked Illa. As he has kept on saying over recent weeks, his proposal is for ERC - who finished second in the elections behind the Socialists, although with the same number of seats - to facilitate a “left-wing government” presided over by himself in coalition with the Comuns. Under no circumstances, he said, would he facilitate a government led by Aragonès.

The Comuns, on the opposite tack

The strategy of the Comuns could not be more different: they see this "government of change" as being led by Aragonès. For the party under Jéssica Albiach, it is the PSC that must make an effort and provide external support. Of course, they raise one condition that is indispensable for them: leaving Junts in the opposition.

En Comú Podem deputy David Cid set it out again this afternoon. "We believe that it would be better to have a government without messieurs Tremosa, Sàmper and Calvet" - referring to three leading Junts figures. Do you want to repeat this government?" he asked the ERC members seductively, at a time when the distance between the two major pro-independence parties is the greatest it has been since the 14th February elections.

However, for this option to succeed, the Socialists would have to provide necessary votes and Illa has already made it clear what he thought of the proposition in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio: "Why should I invest a person that I defeated at the polls?" Cid also criticized the CUP for its role as a mediator in Wednesday's meeting between pro-independence parties: "While some of us make an effort to get Junts out of the government via one door, the CUP works for it to enter through the next door."

Vox, Cs and PP, in the trenches

Aware that they can play no role in the negotiations for the new Catalan government, the parliamentary groups of Vox, Ciudadanos and the Popular Party opted today for strong criticisms of the incumbent executive's management of the pandemic, mixing in allegations of corruption against the independence movement.

In his speech, Vox leader Ignacio Garriga, said that "what this authentic spectacle hides is none other than the fact that the pro-independence parties have turned Catalonia into a booty to be divided between Lledoners and Waterloo" - references to, in the first place, the prison where most of the jailed pro-independence leaders are held, and in the second, the location of the exiled Carles Puigdemont's residence and office in Belgium. 

For his part, the leader of Cs in Catalonia, Carlos Carrizosa, called for the resignation of the Catalan health minister, Alba Vergés, due to the controversy over the vaccination of Spanish police in Catalonia. He has also accused ERC and Junts of postponing emergencies arising from the pandemic and of generating a "civil war" climate.

The president of the Catalan PP, Alejandro Fernández, called Aragonès's intervention "a dead letter" because his capacity for action is "absolutely null", as he has "ceded his power to Waterloo and to a lesser extent to Lledoners".


Main image: Comuns leader Jéssica Albiach with the ERC candidate, Pere Aragonès / Photo: Europa Press