“There is no negotiation underway with anyone, nor has any amnesty project been presented to any political party.” The forcefulness with which Carles Puigdemont manifested himself this Thursday on social networks to deny the negotiation with the PSOE and Sumar around the possible amnesty law as a nuclear condition for an investiture agreement for Pedro Sánchez is not trivial. It takes place at a time when, after the agreement for the Congress Table in which Junts participated, the most radical sectors of the independence movement are beginning to question the role that Puigdemont’s party is beginning to play in the puzzle of Spanish politics, as until now they have furiously criticized Republican Left.
Puigdemont’s statement this Thursday seeks to cool the feeling that the negotiation between Junts and the PSOE or Sumar for the investiture is going at full throttle, especially with regard to the possible future amnesty law, one of the key conditions that both Junts and Esquerra set. And the flood of information and some political statements have generated an environment of substantial progress that Puigdemont now denies and that sources from the Junts Executive, meeting this Thursday in Altafulla (Tarragona), also reject.
Conversations yes, negotiation no
As you already pointed out PublicJunts’ strategy is based on maintaining strict discretion over contacts with the PSOE and Sumar. Contacts that Puigdemont admits but without raising them to negotiation range: “There are conversations with different political actors, of course. Most of them are conversations that we already had in the last legislature, in which Junts lived without the option of participating in any negotiation due to the decision of all the political actors who are now asking to talk.”
Puigdemont: “We must be very careful not to confuse these conversations with a negotiation”
But “we must be very careful not to confuse these conversations with a negotiation,” says the former president. And go step by step: “In politics you cannot suddenly lurch, we are determined to negotiate, but we must do it calmly and prudently”, assured the leader of Junts when defining the party’s strategy, adding that “another thing is the final result”, warning that nothing can be taken for granted.
Discomfort with the Spanish Government and Sumar
In this sense, Junts sources admit that the profuse statements and leaks from the acting government regarding the alleged negotiation and the amnesty project have not gone down well at the party leadership. And they place the vice president and leader of Sumar, Yolanda Díaz, at the target of criticism, who said she was negotiating with Junts “at the highest level” for the agreement for the Table of Congress and also claimed negotiations for the investiture.
“This is not about seeking leadership that can be counterproductive, but about a very complex negotiation to resolve the conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish State that must incorporate amnesty and the right to self-determination for Catalonia,” says a Junts leader. He also remembers that “there are contacts with many parties, but “The negotiation of the investiture of Pedro Sánchez Junts will, when it begins, with the PSOE as is mandatory”.
Junts: “There is no negotiation underway with anyone”
For his part, the exporter of Unidas Podemos in Congress, Jaume Asensand Sumar’s main interlocutor with the independence movement for the investiture negotiations, admits that it is still in an “initial phase” in which they are discussing “methodological issues without addressing substantive issues.”
However, he is optimistic because he sees a “willingness to bring positions closer together” and a “recognition of legitimacies.” In any case, Junts wants to settle the issue: “There is no negotiation underway with anyone, nor has any amnesty project been presented to any political party, which shows that any information published to date is speculation that leads to erroneous conclusions,” sources from the party Executive confirm after this Thursday’s meeting.
In fact, some party leaders indicate that there is rather a certain “disappointment” regarding the limited information they have about the proposal that the Spanish Government may be preparing for the amnesty and they urge the PSOE to accelerate on this issue.
Next Tuesday, starting gun
When will the formal negotiation between Junts and the PSOE begin then? Well, for now the starting signal will be given next Tuesday, September 5, in Brussels, when Puigdemont will set the official conditions to negotiate the investiture. Puigdemont will explain “the framework” that Junts per Catalunya will propose “to everyone who is interested in opening negotiations,” according to Executive sources. And that “everyone” seems to include both Pedro Sanchez like Alberto Núñez Feijóowhich opens the door for Junts to meet with the president of the PP in his round of contacts for his investiture session on September 26 and 27.
The former president of the Generalitat will make the announcement in a speech from Brussels that will serve to inaugurate the interparliamentary conference convened by Junts with the aim of coordinating the actions to be carried out in the last stretch of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU. In addition to the party leadership, all the deputies of the Parliament and Congress, MEPs and senators of the party, as well as other positions, participate in it.
Suspicions, criticism, and the handbrake on
But the need to cool the negotiating expectations regarding the investiture and slow down the pace of rapprochement with the PSOE also comes with the first convulsions that the new political situation causes in the most radical sectors of the independence movement, a part of which is part of the bases. Junts militants and voters.
Seizures that have a first epicenter in the so-called Council of the Republic which Puigdemont presides. A private entity, with about 100,000 members (although only a small part are active), which the most unilateralist independentists equate to a Government of the Generalitat and a Parliament in exile. But of which neither the ERC nor the CUP are a part.
Suspicions have been raised with the letter that Puigdemont has sent to the members of the entity proposing to suppress the Assemblea de Representatives (the supposed Parliament in exile) in the current format and create in its place two new bodies: one representing the Local Councils that the entity has in the Catalan municipalities, and another that works on “the development of republican legislation.” The proposal has been made to coincide with the end of Puigdemont’s first term as head of the organization and the renewal of the members of the Assembly of Representativeswhich is coming soon.
Part of the Assembly of Representatives had already maintained strong disagreements with the Government of the Consell of the Republic, considering that the latter acts without taking into account the majority will of the representatives. With harsh criticism of the vice-president of the Consell and Puigdemont’s right-hand man, the former minister (also in exile) Toni Comín.
The discrepancies in the Consell de la República
With this breeding ground for division, the decision to abolish the Assembly of Representatives It has been perceived by some of its members as an operation to silence criticism of the Junts negotiation with the PSOE for the investiture of Pedro Sanchez, to which these sectors are strongly opposed. To show the button of this criticism from one of the historical pro-independence entities, the CADCI: “Puigdemont and Comín dissolve the Parliament in exile to prevent it from taking a position against the support of Junts and ERC for Sánchez, the parties would be negotiating a limited amnesty politicians with their backs turned to the 4,000 retaliated”. An avalanche of similar comments has spread on social networks.
That is why Puigdemont, in the statement on Thursday, categorically states that “I have not made any decision regarding the Consell de la República based on the possible negotiations that may be undertaken.” But it is difficult to separate this Thursday’s communiqué from this strong pressure exerted by the pro-independence bases that until now had maintained a total or partial adherence to Junts and to the strategy of confrontation against Republican Left.
Criticism of the ANC, increasingly harsh
Nor can it be ignored that, the fact that Puigdemont advances with the handbrake on, the increasingly harsh reproaches towards Junts from very relevant actors of the independence movement such as the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). Your president, Dolors Feliucompares an eventual amnesty with pardons for political prisoners, which, according to what he says, were “conditional on renouncing the right to self-determination.”
In this framework of criticism of the negotiation of an amnesty by the radical sectors, it has also felt bad in Junts that since Sumar, Yolanda Diaz included the police officers who are on trial for their brutal intervention against citizens who were at polling stations during the referendum on October 1, 2017.
The vice president of the Spanish Government and acting Minister of Labor, defended in an interview on TVE’s La 1, this Monday, that a future amnesty law is “absolutely constitutional” and pointed out that there are “multiplicity of assumptions” for the possible beneficiaries, citing the “people who have placed ballot boxes” and the prosecuted law enforcement officers. Something that for part of the independence movement is anathema given that the victims are considered to be the beaten and prosecuted citizens and the police committed a “repressive” and “anti-democratic” action. So they should not be acquitted.
“If you are decisive in Madrid, you have to be so for independence to be possible. It seemed that the crumbs and the fish in the cove [expresión para definir la estrategia de CiU de apoyos al PSOE o al PP a cambio de contraprestaciones autonómicas] We had already overcome them, and even more so after 1-O,” laments Feliu. In this sense, the president of the ANC demands a “change of chip” for the pro-independence parties: “We believed that we were going to achieve independence, not to achieve that you could speak Catalan somewhere in Europe. “This, if we had our own State, we could also do it,” she adds in reference to the Junts agreement on the official status of Catalan in the EU to make the socialist president. Francina Armengol.
The convulsive parenthesis of the Diada and 1-O
We will have to wait until next Tuesday to officially begin the negotiation period between Junts and the PSOE. But it is to be expected that Puigdemont will set the negotiating conditions, looking out of the corner of his eye at this shifting scenario of criticism that is being generated, and with the turbulent period for the independence movement that goes from the Diada to 1-O in the spotlight. At Junts they have conspired so that nothing is known about these conditions until September 5 at 11 in the morning when Puigdemont reveals “the Junts negotiating framework.” And they urge “everyone who is interested in opening negotiations” with Junts per Catalunya to listen carefully.
But with the Diada less than a week away, everything indicates that the conditions that will be put on the table will be maximum. And therefore, there is no doubt that amnesty and self-determination are two concepts that will be present in Puigdemont’s intervention. But we will have to see with what intensity and nuances. There is also no doubt that until after October 3, no one in Junts foresees that the negotiations can gain cruising speed and solidity due to the fear that they could become public in the midst of the independence mobilization. How can it be taken for granted that we will have a heart-stopping second half of November before November 27 arrives, the deadline for an investiture of Sánchez that avoids new elections.