As of the estatut (the Catalan statute of autonomy), by August 9 this year, a new model for the financing of public expenses is to be implemented. Since the negotiations by necessity will create tensions among different geographical factions of the ruling socialists, important personalities from that party recently tried to delay the revision. Former socialist prime minister Felipe González and Andalucian leader Manuel Chaves suggested that the changes can wait until it becomes clearer what effect the current cooling of the economy will have on the state coffers.
For a while it seemed that Zapatero would side with them, but then José Montilla, president of the Generalitat de Catalunya, wrote a surprisingly sharp article on the topic in El País. Almost immediately did he receive support from the other Catalan parties, which served as a reminder about the balance in the Spanish parliament. If the Catalan socialists PSC would ever decide to vote with the other Catalans, and not with its sister party PSOE, then PSOE's only option to obtain a majority would be to co-operate with the opposition party PP.
Possibly, that was the perspective Zapatero had in mind today when he decided to speak out. Hopefully, however, it was common sense that made him promise that his government will live up to what has been outlined in l’estatut and put an end to the unintentional injustice of the current system. While Catalonia contributes the most to the state budget, money transfers make it possible for some financially weak autonomous regions to offer their inhabitants better public services than what we have here.
When did we last see the Catalan president gain so much respect?
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A late update: Today, Wednesday, LaVanguardia informs us that Montilla has asked PSC's 25 members of the Spanish parliament to remain firm on the issue of public finances. He did not, however, want to comment on how PSC will vote in case PSOE again changes its mind.
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L’article que vaig escriure el José Montilla al País fa uns dies deu haver sigut millor rebut que ell mateix no esperava. Com primer pas van mostrar-li el seu soport els altres partits catalans. Avui, no únicament ha promès el Zapatero que se sigue trevallant amb el dia 9 d’agost com termini per canviar el sistema del finançament públic de Catalunya, sinó també ha demonstrat que va internalitzar l'argumentació presentada pel president català.
És clar que el Montilla té qualitats de què jo no m’havia adonat fins ara.