ERC certifies the commitment to the referendum agreed in a congress marked by the tense negotiation of budgets

Congress of self-esteem and reaffirmation. The plenary session of the 29th National Congress of Republican Left held this Saturday in Lleida has served for the Republicans to certify in their political presentation the path promoted in the last two years, which involves promoting the negotiation with the Spanish Government through the table of dialogue to resolve the political conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish State. First with the de-judicialization process and, once the reform of the Penal Code was approved, continuing with the negotiation to be able to hold a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia. And, according to the proposal approved in its congress, ERC proposes that it be in line with what is established by the European Union in other cases, for example, that of Montenegro.

On the other hand, Esquerra has celebrated its congressional process transmitting an image of muscularity and internal unity. All this at a time when the Esquerra Government is going through a difficult time waiting to see if the budgets are approved, an issue that has also marked the conclave despite not being part of any internal agenda. Thus, the nearly 1,400 militants who have participated in the forum held in Lleida received their main leaders, the president and the general secretary of the party, Oriol Junqueras and Marta Rovira respectively, or the spokeswoman, Marta Vilalta, with loud ovations. But especially in the intervention of the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, who was acclaimed standing up with shouts of president, president.

Passage with virtually no opposition

Internal unity has also been reflected in the closing ranks of the militancy regarding the processing of the party’s political paper based on the referendum proposal. Only two -of the 265 amendments presented- have reached congress alive. One of them has been transacted before starting the session and the other one has been rejected. The rest have been agreed with the national leadership during the debate process or knocked down directly by the local assemblies themselves. Finally, the paper has been approved with a resounding 96.78% of the votes in favour, specifically 632 votes in favour, 14 blank and only 7 against.

The atmosphere among the Republican militancy has shown the desire to stick out their chests in the face of the difficulties imposed by the PSC to approve the budgets that have forced the ERC Government to accept the controversial B-40 del Vallès highway, which is anathema for the Republican bases and causes them a strong contradiction. And also because of the constant criticism from other pro-independence parties such as Junts and the CUP. Quite the contrary of undermining the morale of the bases, the party congress has served to stage the closing ranks with the leadership and the Government and instill morale in the troops in the face of a decisive electoral cycle that will start with the municipal elections in May.

A point that Aragonès also wanted to use to show the musculature of the party, listing some of the numerous mayoralties that ERC has, including Lleida, Tarragona, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Sitges, Amposta or Manresa. What has aroused a new ovation from those present. The municipal sphere has been very present in the conclave and has allowed the mayor of Barcelona, ​​Ernest Maragall, a projector, who has shown himself confident in revalidating the victory and this time getting the mayoralty, despite the latest demoscopic setbacks that place him in fourth place.

The democratic path of the referendum

In this way, with the direction previously decided in a vote where Junqueras and Rovira revalidated the leadership without problems, the 29th National Congress of the Republican Left has focused on the political paper baptized as The Democratic Way of the Referendum. The document confirms the commitment to an independent Catalan Republic “as the best tool to serve citizens and guarantee rights and freedom for all”. In order to achieve this, Esquerra Republicana defends that it is necessary to “relaunch the social majority of October 1 and 3” of 2017. And they propose to do it around “the greatest social consensus in our country: the holding of an independence referendum.”

The party is committed to articulating a Clarity Agreement where the conditions can be set, based on “a debate and the achievement of a consensus in Catalonia” to agree on “the specific formula”. The Republicans are betting on a “clear question, like the one in the referendum on October 1, 2017” and that people can vote from the age of 16. And it specifies that it would be considered that the victory of the “yes” would be clear “if a minimum of 50% participation and 55% support for the “yes” to independence were met at the same time”, as the formula included. for a referendum in Montenegro that received European endorsement.

Junqueras and Rovira put the agreed referendum as the only way to independence

The president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, has vehemently defended the proposal of the Republicans at the closing of the congress and has appealed to the pro-independence formations that have not put forward any viable proposal and criticize Esquerra’s proposal: “When you don’t have a way to go sometimes you would like nobody to have it. But we have it”, he assured. On the other hand, Junqueras has warned Moncloa that, if it does not agree to the dialogue table, the negotiation to resolve the political conflict can also be “concretized” through various “ways, formulas and other agents” of the international community. The ERC leader claimed his party as the only one with an “effective, explicit and consensual” strategy to achieve independence.

For her part, the general secretary, Marta Rovira, has established the referendum as strategic, urging the militants to put the demand for this consultation at the center of all the political action of the party. And Pere Aragonès has taken advantage of his speech to once again demand a “great agreement” to “vote again” for independence, based on a proposal where everyone can feel represented. The president has called for the “agreed” referendum, with all parties accepting its result, and ensuring international recognition of the decision of the polls: “The State cannot treat us as minors.” The president has thus insisted on his proposed Clarity Agreement, to give “shape” to the “consensus” that certifies that the conflict must be resolved by voting. “It’s that simple and democratic, and that unstoppable,” he argued.

Alliances with the Spanish left and sovereignist forces of the State

The presentation has also included an explicit reference to forging alliances with pro-independence or sovereign organizations from the rest of the Catalan Countries, other state nations such as Galiza or Euskal Herria or actors from the Spanish left such as Podemos. In defense of the right to self-determination, but also to confront the PP and Vox. The text specifies the mandate to “embedded strategies with the Spanish left and with other non-state nations of the Spanish State and, very especially, with the pro-sovereignty organizations of the rest of the Catalan Countries, which make it possible to establish republican alliances dedicated to defending, for the entire State, self-determination, democratic freedoms and the questioning of the monarchical regime”. “This collaboration is especially necessary in the face of a hypothetical state government of the Spanish right in the next Spanish legislature,” he adds.

Budgets and the B-40 slip into Congress

It was not even part of the political presentation, but without a doubt the tense budget negotiation with the PSC that keeps the accounts blocked despite the acceptance of the B-40 motorway by the ERC as demanded by the Socialists has gone through all the interventions of the republican congress. From the beginning to the end, at times harshly against the immobility of the PSC and also in the groups of militants, it has been a star theme. The president of the Generalitat himself, Pere Aragonès, began: “Decisions are reserved for those of us who take risks, it is a new lesson in responsibility, generosity and a sense of country.” But the toughest was Marta Rovira -who has intervened in a videoconference from Geneva- accusing the parties that “play” with the budget negotiation to “wear down” the president of the Government, Pere Aragonès. And she warned that the budgets are not from ERC, nor from the PSC nor from Junts, but “from the people”.

Despite the fact that the Esquerra parliamentary group has been forced by the negotiation with the PSC to vote in favor of the B-40 motorway and that the Government of Aragonès has assumed the project “assuming the contradiction and political wear and tear that it entails – according to the president-“, the party wanted to make it clear that it maintains its ideological opposition to the project. For this reason, it includes a section of the presentation -which has transacted an amendment- in which it ensures: “We do not accept management lessons from those who have always directed Renfe and have turned it into the current chaos or defend anachronistic projects such as the Fourth Belt (B-40) or the extension of the El Prat airport imposed by the State”. The specific mention of the airport has also been added based on the compromised amendment.

The document approved this Saturday also highlights ERC’s position “against” the El Prat airport expansion project “imposed” by AENA and the Spanish Government. A delicate issue that the Socialists insist can still derail the budgets, and that the Republicans assure that there is already a written agreement, although not signed. The resolution of the tug of war will be known as of Monday when the teams of both parties are summoned to continue negotiating. A new decisive week is expected for the budgets of the Generalitat, the umpteenth, or we will see if it is already the last.

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