THE Catalan regional government has been plunged into a crisis after one of the governing parties, Junts per Catalunya, withdrew its support from its partner, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC).
The move by Junts per Catalunya – literally, Together for Catalonia – came after grass-roots party members voted for the split. Both Junts and ERC are in favour of Catalan independence, but divisions over how to achieve this goal have deepened between the two parties in recent months.
The move has left ERC regional premier Pere Aragonès facing a situation where he will have to rely on the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and smaller parties in the regional parliament if he is to continue governing. The first issue on the table for the regional premier is the approval of the budget.
At the last Catalan regional elections, the PSC and ERC won the same number of seats but the PSC was the actual winner on the basis it garnered a higher percentage of the vote. The PSC leader is Salvador Illa, best known for his role as national health minister during the worst year of the coronavirus pandemic.
For his part, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called for “stability”. “In these difficult moments for Catalan and European society, with a war at the gates of Europe, with the harsh effects that this is having on prices, and coming out of a pandemic, I want to assert that the value of the stability of governments is fundamental,” the Socialist Party leader said.
The drive for independence in Catalonia peaked in 2017, when an illegal referendum on secession from Spain was organised. Held in October of that year, the vote made headlines around the world due to violent actions by the police and Civil Guard in a bid to stop the poll from going ahead.
Subsequently the regional parliament unilaterally declared independence, prompting Madrid to step in and take control of the region, sacking the government and calling new elections.
In recent months the split between ERC and Junts has deepened, with the former seeking a more pragmatic route to independence and the latter calling for more action to achieve secession.