ERC Guarantee Stability

But Remain in Opposition after November 2012 Election

In the first meeting between Artur Mas and Oriol Junqueras after the election results, the ERC leader confirmed that despite the president's call for a responsible attitude in forming "a strong, stable and serious government" in order to guarantee the consultation on self-determination, his party would not be forming part of the government. He did, however, promise to guarantee the "parliamentary stability" of the incoming cabinet in return for a clear national agenda and a softening of austerity measures.

The meeting had been preceded by two phone calls. The first in which the two leaders congratulated each other on the election results and a second to formally arrange a meeting.

Both politicians had their positions clear. Mas argued that at such a delicate moment only a coalition would guarantee day to day government and prepare the consultation, the holding of which he made dependent on the solvency of the new government. Junqueras, on the other hand, felt that exercising "responsible opposition" would also make stable government possible.

This had been ERC's position since the election results came in but they have also sent CiU repeated messages expressing their willingness "roll their sleeves up to help stability" and be "a loyal partner". In declarations to Catalunya Radio, Junqueras had confirmed his refusal to join the government beause "this is what the ballot box has told us". "What the citizens want is for us to lead the opposition and be responsible" he expalined and stressed "I am not hear to be a Vice-President but rather to take the country to independence" and that ERC "will not lose itself in institutionalist debates nor in a spider's web of official positions". The republicans weren't even interested in accepting the presidency of the Catalan Parliament.

The meeting between Mas and Junqueras, who until that point had maintained a distant relationship", served to confirm that there was a good feeling between the two. "He seemed very well," the president commented to a high-ranking member of the government after the meeting.

The four issues the negotiations centred on were the investiture, the budget, foreign policy and the referendum. Regarding the president's investiture, ERC promised to give their support in the first vote in order to give the government an image of solidity and strength. Regarding the budget, the republicans believe the measures such as the succession tax, the charge of a euro per prescription and a tax on the banks, could bring in money for the Generalitat and so reduce the severity of the cuts.

Mas and Junqueras plan to explain together plans for the internationalisation of the Catalan demands and the two as yet were unable to reach an agreement on the date for a referendum. The two parties agreed to establish two parliamentary working groups, one to administer the budget and the second to look into the legal aspects involved in organising a referendum.

ERC had also had meetings with CiU politicians Oriol Pujo and Jordi Turull as well as with ICV leader, Joan Herrera. Whilst Mas met with PSC leader Pere Navarro.

The CiU leadership sent out a letter to its members promising the organisation of a referendum in the next four years. " The Right to Decide now has more strength than ever and for this reason, as I said on election night, the consultation to the people of Catalonia will be held in the next four years."

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