The ERC head of ranks in Barcelona City Council, Ernest Maragall, has been since May (when the half-term of the mandate was fulfilled), criticizing the management of Mayor Ada Colau and ensuring that his credit has run out. That after two years as a preferred partner, he will exercise the opposition. But this position has not yet materialized. A month ago, the abstention of the Republicans in the plenary session allowed Colau to approve the tax ordinances of 2021 while the rest of the parties voted against it.
Last Wednesday was the first time that Republicans refused to support an important vote: that of the processing of the budgets. Maragall was fed up with breaches of previous pacts, with the commons presenting agreed initiatives without having an ERC, or with changes in agreed projects, say sources in his environment. But the change of cards between commons and ERC (those of Colau support the accounts of the Government of Pere Aragonès and ERC those of Barcelona), have disrupted Maragall’s opposition strategy. On December 23, in the last plenary session of the year, the frog will have to swallow the support of the accounts of Colau and his partners of the PSC.
The pact between the commons and ERC on the Generalitat’s budget had an immediate effect on that of the City Council on Monday. The ERC municipal group appeared in Parliament to announce that it will “facilitate” its final approval in December. Visibly annoyed (especially with the commons and but also with the ERC leadership), the councilor and also deputy Ernest Maragall did not specify whether he will vote in favor or abstain. But he made his disgust for a pact on which he admitted: “It was done without our participation.”
Maragall assured that he “maintains his critical position” with the Barcelona accounts, but that he will support them “to serve the general interest of the country.” He has no intention of trading items. Without hiding his anger, the councilor reproached the common people for using Barcelona as a bargaining chip: “They have branch office Barcelona, have positioned the city and its accounts as a piece of political negotiation ”.
Both the mayor and the budget councilor, Jordi Martí, celebrated the double budget agreement, both expansive and positive to get out of the crisis and promote economic reactivation, they said. And both reached out to Maragall to discuss the 100 million game reserved for group requests. Colau and the mayor denied the use of the city criticized by Maragall. “There has been no exchange, Barcelona and Catalonia have been prioritized,” said the mayor offering dialogue to her rival, who won the elections by 4,800 votes, but tied 10 seats with Barcelona in common.
Colau did not miss the opportunity to recall that the great agreements of the mandate have been reached with ERC. The two previous budgets, no less, or the union of the tram networks on the Diagonal. Last week, the renovation of Via Laietana. “There is no branches, but rather collaboration between forces of the left ”, Marti stressed. The mayor expressed her conviction that the Republican “rushed” by not supporting the accounts in a calculation that, she understood, was electoralist. “It has happened to all of us, there is a lot of time left for the elections,” he said condescendingly.
Maragall received harsh criticism from all sides. Colau’s partner, the socialist Jaume Collboni, affirmed: “Maragall has squandered his credibility in 72 hours, when he said ‘no to everything’ and now he says ‘yes’ and does not say in exchange for what or in exchange for the support of the commons to the Generalitat budget. I have never seen a gesture of such subordination of Barcelona to the Catalan politics led by ERC and Mr. Maragall ”.
From Junts, the deputy and councilor Elsa Artadi reproached ERC for “taking advantage of the ‘no’ of the CUP to open the doors to the commons, which have shown that they have among their objectives to break most of the independence movement. “Maragall becomes the crutch of the worst government that Barcelona has ever had, it has given up opposing itself or being a credible candidate,” he added.
Last week, and against all odds, Maragall announced his ‘no’ to the initial processing of the accounts, in a decision agreed with the ERC management, sources close to the councilor say. Last Wednesday they were processed with the three votes of Barcelona pel canvi, the party founded by Manuel Valls, now led by Eva Parera. But “the stage was broken when the CUP announced its no to the budget and the commons offered to agree on them.” According to these sources, the change of common cards will suppose an “open wound” that will mark what remains of the mandate in the Consistory.
Before, Maragall will face the drink of voting Colau’s accounts in the last plenary session of the year. “We take note, we are not changing our position in the City Council and we serve the general interest assuming the contradiction between what we vote and what we will vote on,” he insisted. And he warned that they will continue “to be critical and to exercise the opposition in Barcelona.” Next Friday there is a plenary session, but no big executive issue on the agenda.
The unknown about the Republican head of the list in 2023
Ernest Maragall appeared this Monday in the press room of the Parliament supported by three councilors from the municipal group of the City Council and two positions from the ERC federation of Barcelona. Asked about the change of cards between common and ERC in the budgets after his refusal to support those of Ada Colau affects his credibility as a candidate for the municipal elections of 2023, he resolved: “It is the least of the issues.” “I have enough experience to know that these things come, happen, are assumed and future events will tell what they mean in personal and political consequences, there is time.”
Maragall, who is 78 years old, insisted that yesterday’s appearance shows “the capacity of the municipal group to have its own position and defend it with its face held high, acting in the name of the general interest of the country and will be recognized and understood by the citizens.”
18 months before the elections, who will be the ERC candidate in Barcelona is anyone’s guess. Last June, Maragall left his future as head of the list in the hands of his party – “and the doctors,” he said. In July, President Pere Aragonès showed his support for the eventual candidacy in an interview. Meanwhile, the current delegate of the Generalitat in Madrid, Ester Capella, who has been a councilor, deputy and councilor, has applied to accompany the veteran politician on the list.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.