Aragonès demands that the dialogue with the Government bear fruit in 2022 | Catalonia

Pere Aragonès gave his first Christmas speech as president of the Generalitat this Sunday and, as happened in the Diada, his team chose to record it in a different place in the Palau de la Generalitat. From the educational center where language immersion was born, in Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), the Republican leader has asked that the dialogue table with the Government begin to bear fruit next year. And to pressure, he made a call to “build alternatives” in case that negotiation runs aground, an expression with which the independence movement usually refers to holding a referendum, unilateral or not.

“2022 has to be the year in which the negotiation with the State advances and begins to give tangible results,” said the head of the Government. For Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) it has not been easy to defend the banner of dialogue in the face of constant criticism from its partners in the Executive, Junts per Catalunya, and the anti-capitalists of the CUP. Republicans insist that trying to reach out to Pedro Sánchez’s Executive is a necessary step if the independence movement is to gain credibility in international settings, although it has also benefited from its support in Congress. The Government, for its part, hopes that the so-called agenda of the reunion with Catalonia will lessen the drive for secession.

Finding a middle ground between these two strategies, which is possible to sell as an advance, is not easy. The Catalan side sets the objective of an agreed referendum, such as the one held in Scotland in 2014 (and in which the secessionist option was defeated) and an amnesty law. Sánchez denies that either of the two possibilities is feasible.

The table between the two governments was reactivated last September, after the difficult birth of a new Executive in Catalonia and with Sánchez immersed in the calculations for the new electoral cycle. Both parties, who met in Barcelona and without the participation of representatives of the Junts, then agreed to continue the negotiation away from the spotlight and without a fixed schedule. Aragonès has tried this Sunday to rule out an eternalization of the dialogue and has made a call to start building alternatives “in case the negotiation runs aground and does not bring results.” This is one of the commitments that are in the investiture and legislative agreements that ERC signed with the CUP and Junts, respectively. Another of those commitments, that of a motion of confidence, is in the air.

The nuclear button to pressure Sánchez to move, however, has conditions. That plan b, Aragonès said without specifying the format, involves “acting realistically, seeking maximum consensus and learning from the path traveled so far.” It is the way of president to rule out political martyrdoms that have no real effect on the achievement of an independent Catalonia.

In a year in which the debate on the language has returned to the social epicenter, the setting chosen by the Palau team to record the message has a strong symbolic charge. It is the Rosselló Pòrcel school, in the so-called red belt of the Catalan capital, where the language immersion model began almost 40 years ago. The Republican leader has ignored in his speech the judicial decisions of recent months on the obligation to offer 25% of classes in Spanish, but has defended that Catalan is “neuralgic” in the educational system.

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Aragonès, whose partners in the Government have criticized the lukewarm defense of the immersion model, has drawn history to remember how parents who migrated from other regions of Spain fought 40 years ago to achieve a public school and in Catalan, “contributing thus to social cohesion and offering a future of opportunities for their children ”. The president of the Generalitat has defended that, although the context is different, this school model continues to be valid as a response to “the cultural, social and linguistic diversity of the country.”

The situation in Catalonia is so particular that Aragonès has congratulated himself because, for the first time in 12 years, the Generalitat begins a calendar with new budgets. The accounts were approved on December 23 thanks to the support of En Comú Podem (the CUP detached itself from the pro-independence bloc that made the investiture possible last May) and the leader of the regional Executive has wanted to take heart from being able to count on more resources for housing and health. In the speech he had a moment of gratitude for the health workers, at a critical moment due to the effects of the omicron variant and in which he questions how the Generalitat is facing the sixth wave.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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