The so called federation Convergència i Unió (CiU) is the single biggest force of the Parliament of Catalonia, but their influence on politics extends to the state level. Since they hold the balance of the Spanish parliament, coming autumn they will play a key role when Zapatero’s socialist government needs to build a majority in order to pass a number of important bills.
This weekend, CiU's main faction, Covergència, held their congress and re-elected party leader Artur Mas is sending a clear message to Madrid: Zapatero will only have CiU’s support if there is an agreement acceptable to Catalonia on the financing of the autonomous regions, if the charter of autonomy (l’Estatut) is finally being fully implemented and the central government stops intervening in Catalan school policy (in specific the third hour of Spanish).
Within Catalonia, Artur Mas, for a change, did not criticise the sitting tripartite govern but claimed to be open to start a dialogue in order to improve on three weak areas: trade and industry (el teixit productiu), the welfare state and the Catalan identity.
On a more visionary note, Convergència now explicitly has the ambition to develop into ‘la casa gran del catalanisme’. For that reason – and contrary to speculations that it would put an end to the CiU federation – the congress informally suggested that Convergència and Unió merge into one. La casa gran is to be a movement where people from the left as well as from the right, those who want an independent Catalonia as well as those who want a federal Spain, can feel that they fit in. Personally, I have my doubts that this initiative will be successful. How the Catalan electorate will respond remains to be seen.
Up-date: For technical reasons, I have removed the link to the video from CDC's congress. Here is the link, in case you want to see it again.
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Related media: LaVanguardia 1 2 3 4, Avui 1.
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Technorati tags: Catalonia, CiU, Convergència, Independence, PSOE, Spain, Unió, Zapatero,