After negotiations which drove many Catalonia to despair and which were taken to prison, it worked on Monday: in the rebel Spanish state, the two main pro-independence parties presented their agreement for a new regional government, which should bring about a Independent Catalonia. closer.
This agreement is the latest chapter in the conflict with Catalonia that has raged in Spain for years. This conflict reached a critical stage in 2017, when the Catalan regional government single-handedly held a referendum and then declared the independent republic of Catalonia. Spain intervened harshly and the Spanish courts sentenced the responsible Catalan administrators to long prison terms. Since then, the conflict has stalled.
With the deal, the supporters of independence breathe a sigh of relief. The center-left ERC and Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), a heterogeneous alliance of nationalists, have conducted fruitless negotiations since the regional elections on February 14. A majority in favor of Catalan secession came out of the polls that day.
The deal only arrives just in time. A significant deadline will expire in nine days. If the new regional government is not yet installed, Catalonia must legally hold new elections. Both parties now appear to be preventing this decline, although Junts supporters have yet to accept the coalition deal. In addition, for their installation, the parties need the support of the CUP, a radical left party which also aspires to independence. If CUP also agrees – and it appears to be – the regional government can get going.
“It suits us to apologize to society as a whole,” Jordi Sànchez apologized for the delay on Monday. The secretary general of Junts per Catalunya is serving a 9-year prison sentence for his role in the struggle for independence, but was able to present the release agreement on Monday.
Alongside Sánchez stood Pere Aragonès, the future regional president of Catalonia on behalf of the ERC. Aragonès, 38, a lawyer who stands out in the fanatic struggle for independence by his thoughtfulness and pragmatism, had been acting president since last September.
Confrontation or dialogue
An agreement that should lead to the independence of Catalonia, between two parties in search of this independence: at first glance, this does not seem an impossible task. The long discussions between ERC and Junts per Catalunya had everything to do with deep disagreements over how quickly and how to achieve secession from Spain.
Junts per Catalunya is that of “ civil disobedience ”, the harsh confrontation with the Spanish state which led to the unilateral declaration of independence in 2017. The long prison sentences that followed are instruments of this strategy for to draw international attention to the Catalan injustice and to increase the pressure on Spain within the European Union.
Junts also sees an important role for Carles Puigdemont, the regional president who fled his prison sentence after the declaration of the Catalan Republic in Belgium, where he has served in the European Parliament since 2019.
ERC, currently the largest independence party, sees little to make Puigdemont, which operates from Brussels, important. The Aragonès party also wants to maintain dialogue with Spain to bring about secession. It was these issues, along with less pressing issues, that kept the conversations going.
Aragonès’ visit to Lledoners prison, about fifty kilometers from Barcelona, illustrates the Catalan situation to force a breakthrough with the imprisoned leader of the Junts, Sànchez. In the deal the two finally presented on Monday, the differences of opinion were not so much resolved as they were parked. Saving the majority for independence was the most important – they will see the rest later.
This unclear strategy makes it difficult for Spain to determine a position. The most important, the Spanish government replied to the coalition agreement on Monday, is a return to the negotiating table (so far very little used). However, a legal referendum on independence remains out of the question for the Spanish state. A new clash between Spain and Catalonia therefore seems to be a matter of time.