If his initial proposal to a new model for how to allocate public funds between different parts of Spain will not be accepted, Spanish finance minister Pedro Solbes has warned that there will not be any reform in this area. Today, when he meets the representatives from the autonomous communities, he will not get the requested approval, but still has to take up the negotiations.
Yesterday, Zapatero’s government revealed that for the first time in three years, Spain will run into a budget deficit, and to take measures he needs to build a majority in the parliament. As long as things are not worse than they are, he will not humiliate himself to ask for PP’s support and that leaves him with Catalan CiU as the least unattractive partner.
In the view of that, the unity between Catalonia’s political parties must be annoying and even more so since the core of their agreement is l’Estatut, established and voted through by Zapatero’s own government. The four parties who now say no to Solbes’ proposal are PSC, ICV-EUiA and CiU – which all supported the Estatut - as well as Esquerra, which voted against it but accepts it as a minimum for what to expect from the Spanish government. The Catalan branch of PP is being left out of the formal discussions as long as their party do not take back their appeal against the Estatut to the Constitutional Court.
What we see is probably an exception, but Catalan politicians are in fact proving to be able to look beyond political differences and retreat to common ground. It would be nice if they could maintain that position for a while.
Up-date 1: (July 22, afternoon) Things are starting to heat up. Solbes now accuses the Catalans for trying to impose their model and for not respecting that the agreement must be 'multilateral'. Is he trying to evade the Estatut which stipulates "bilateral agreements" between Catalonia and the Spanish government?
Up-date 2: (July 23, midnight) On the one hand Solbes seems to try to dilute Catalonia's right to a "bilateral agreement", but on the other he promises that his proposal can be adapted to the Estatut. His conclusion from today's meeting was that all autonomous communities except for Catalonia, plus those ruled by PP, were prepared to start negotiations from his model.
Among the Catalan parties Esquerra has made it clear that they will not accept an agreement which CiU does not support, which means that the tripartit government will have to co-ordinate with the oppositon. At the same time CiU promises not to start direct talks with Zapatero - as they did in the final discussions about the Estatut - which in turn means that Zapatero cannot take PSC's votes for granted and focus all energy on getting CiU's support. The Catalan unity seems to last - at least for now.
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Related media: Avui 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; LaVanguardia 1, 2, 3, 4; El País 1
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Technorati tags: Catalonia, CiU, Estatut, PSC, PSOE, Spain, Zapatero