In rare political pact, Socialists back separatist government’s budget in Catalonia

After months of tough negotiations, the Socialists’ Party of Catalonia (PSC) announced on Wednesday that they reached an agreement with the separatist Catalan government on the 2023 budget.

The announcement could signal the beginning of a major shift in Catalan politics.

Since the independence movement started gaining steam around 2009, the region’s political scene has become fragmented between separatists and non-separatists, as opposed to left-wing versus right-wing.

Salvador Illa, Spain’s former health minister and the leader of the PSC, said the deal was “highly relevant, but is not an agreement to govern together.”

He said the PSC will continue working as “the alternative to a government that we don’t think Catalonia needs.”

The PSC agreed to back the budget after winning some concessions. The deal gives Catalonia’s left-wing separatist President Pere Aragones enough support to pass the budget.

As of now, it will not have the support of the right-wing separatist coalition Junts per Catalunya, or Together for Catalonia, which has some representation in the Catalan government.

This is the largest regional budget in ten years and aims to advance controversial infrastructure projects.

One includes the “modernization” of the Catalan airport, which Aragones’ party had opposed. While the agreement does not get into specifics, plans to expand the airport had been blocked over environmental concerns.

“We are talking about increasing the number of flights from 70 to 90 per hour,” said Illa.

In the agreement with the Socialists, the government also commits to finalizing the approval process for the initial stages of the Hard Rock Entertainment World, a multi-billion-dollar project that would include hotels, casinos, and golf courses an hour outside of Barcelona.

While the agreement will help Catalonia unlock its budget, the pact is being criticized from all sides.

The ANC, a separatist activist group, criticized Aragones for pacting with the “left of 155,” which is the name of the constitutional article used to suspend home rule in Catalonia in 2017 after the government announced it was breaking away from Spain.

Meanwhile, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the leader of Spain’s main opposition People’s Party, criticized the Socialists for “supporting separatism” and said there is a growing risk of a government-sanctioned referendum in Catalonia.

Source: Anadolu Agency