Read in Catalan

A change in discourse from the Spanish government on the reform of the crime of misuse of funds. In the wake of last Thursday's controversial announcement on the reform of the sedition law, calls have been made for a reform of this second Penal Code offence - from Catalan president Pere Aragonès, among others - but despite being initially greeted by the Spanish government with a commitment to "study" the question "in depth", Pedro Sánchez's executive has today pulled back from taking a stand on this issue. Spokesperson Isabel Rodríguez avoided clear responses on all questions related to this issue after this Tuesday's weekly cabinet meeting, and reiterated that the Spanish government has already fulfilled one of its star promises: to reform the crime of sedition through a repeal and an alteration to the Penal Code to incorporate aggravated public disorder.

Rodríguez affirmed that the PSOE and Podemos government "has already fulfilled its commitment it had made for the entire legislature to approve a law change to make the Penal Code compatible with other European countries", a promise which, she said, has now been "translated" into the parliamentary bill that the two parties presented to the Congress of Deputies at the end of last week. Having said that, and with persistent questions about misuse of funds, the spokesperson passed the ball to the lower house, asserting that it is up to the parliamentary groups to present amendments to the text or other legislative initiatives. Nor did she comment on the position of the executive on this matter, nor if she considers that misuse of funds in which no one pockets any money should be distinguished from the other cases - this is the situation of those Catalan pro-independence leaders who were convicted or are accused of misuse of funds, with no-one asserting that they stole money for personal enrichment, but rather that, according to the court, they channeled public funds into a referendum that had been deemed "unconstitutional".   


"The executive respects the role of Congress, and the prime minister had a commitment to the reform of sedition that has already been fulfilled", reiterated the minister spokesperson. She also said that this commitment is "expressed" in the bill presented last week. It should be borne in mind that the leader of the ERC in Congress, Gabriel Rufián, said this Tuesday that the Catalan Republican Left are holding talks with the Spanish government on the misuse of funds reform.

Rodríguez also took issue with the management of the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain under the government of Pedro Sánchez as opposed to that of Mariano Rajoy. "This country as a whole, including the opposition, should be celebrating that today we are in a better place than five years ago when, according to the CIS, this issue was the second-ranked concern of Catalans and Spaniards, while today it is in the place number 41", she said. "This is due to the cordial relations and coexistence that has been put in place" by the executive, Rodríguez asserted.

With regard to the Spain-Catalonia dialogue table, the spokesperson for the Spanish government assured that the executive "continues to work on it", and asked the Catalan government "not to fail" in the budgeted investments for Catalonia. She affirmed that Catalonia can play "a leading role" and reiterated Moncloa's commitment to increase the "coexistence" in the country.