ERC and EH Bildu decided long ago to join their paths and strategies. In the last year only, they have both backed Pedro Sánchez's investiture as president, some of the extensions of the state of alarm and the general state budget. This Monday the assistant general secretary of ERC, Marta Vilalta, and the general coordinator of EH Bildu, Arnaldo Otegi, have made a joint appearance to defend their alliance and the definitive support that they will give at the end of December to Pedro Sánchez's state budget.
Otegi and Vilalta have focused on explaining why Basque and Catalan independence parties must support the budgets of a party like the PSOE, which does not recognise right of self-determination of either nation. For Otegi, there are two fundamental reasons. The first is that the context of the pandemic makes it more important than ever to obtain state resources for "workers and small businesses". The second is that endorsing these accounts is a way of curbing "the reactionary agenda of the ultra-right. He has even used irony to remind us that ERC and Bildu have 18 deputies and 13 senators, and this cannot be wasted: "We are part of the left that learned to add up and multiply at school, and this is always important". Otegi and Vilalta have used the same adjective to define these 18 parliamentarians: "We are decisive."
Otegi has also lent a hand to ERC in the conflict that has opened up over one of the most controversial points of the budgetary pact that ERC have signed with the PSOE: fiscal harmonisation of certain taxes such as the wealth tax. The Basque leader considered that "it is not a mistake" to raise it and was convinced that in no case would it be a threat for the Basque Country's possibility to continue with its own tax system. Vilalta has also taken advantage of her intervention to deny that the fiscal part of the agreement means the loss of the little fiscal sovereignty that the Generalitat has. She explained that they do not propose a global tax harmonisation, but rather that a minimum tax rate be put in place for certain taxes to avoid "the unfair competition" that the Madrid region carries out in tax matters.
Praise for the Catalan Independence bid
ERC and EH Bildu's alliance could also give them a boost in the eyes of their own supporters. On the one hand, ERC can shield itself from criticism by saying that they are not the only pro-independence party backing the budget. On the other, Bildu seeks to reduce internal conflicts by looking to one of the parties behind Catalonia's independence bid, which Bildu leaders see as a reference to be imitated in the Basque Country.