ERC will not be the only Catalan pro-independence party to endorse Pedro Sánchez's budget. The four PDECat representatives in the Spanish Parliament - who now work independently from the four Junts per Catalunya MPs - have reached a pre-agreement with the Spanish government to vote in favour of the state budget in the plenary session that starts this Monday and will end on Thursday before the processing of the budgets goes to the Senate. Now all that remains is for the party executive to endorse the agreement, as ACN has advanced and PDECat sources have confirmed.
PDECat, together with ERC, had already allowed the processing of the budget in an earlier session, in which differences with the spokesperson for Junts per Catalunya in the Spanish Parliament, Laura Borràs, surfaced and lead to reproaches among the pro-independence groups. Nevertheless, reaching an agreement remained difficult as the Spanish government's efforts focused on gaining the support of ERC's 13 MPs rather than PDECat's four.
Their support, however, is key for the Spanish government. They might not be vital for the survival of the budget, but they could be if the Socialists seek to pass measures that lean towards the centre-right with the support of PNV and Ciudadanos. In spite of their rejection of the budget, Pedro Sánchez wishes to maintain Ciudadanos as a possible ally.
PDECat's backing takes the total number of favourable votes to 184, eight above the required. These include MPs from the Socialist Party, Unidas Podemos, ERC, PNV, EH Bildu and Compromís.
Bel: "It's a very good agreement"
While waiting to communicate the details of the pre-agreement, the visible face of the PDECat in the Spanish Parliament, Ferran Bel, stated on Monday to SER Catalunya that this is a "very good agreement" that has been negotiated on budgets that "already had sufficient majorities" but that finally allows PDECat to bring "substantial improvements" for Catalonia to Sánchez's budget.
"Our function is to improve the financing of the Generalitat and not to renounce part of our self-government", he said of the commitment to fight against fiscal dumping in Madrid agreed by ERC with the Spanish government: "We have always asked for more fiscal capacity" for the Catalan government and aiming to establish common rules for the whole state "would not be the most appropriate".
Junts per Catalunya, on the other hand, now has the option of either voting against the budget or abstaining. Quim Torra, who was barred as president of the Catalan government, would like the party to vote against. The spokeswoman of Junts in the Spanish parliament and JxCat's presidential candidate for the Catalan February elections, Laura Borràs, claims the accounts "are not good for Catalonia". The CUP also plans to oppose and thus portraying once again the division of the Catalan independence block in Congress.
In this sense, the spokesperson of Catalunya en Comú, Joan Mena, has regretted JxCat's "blockade" option of the accounts and praised PDECat's backing. "Even the PDECat has understood this situation, its position makes JxCat's position and its commitment to the blockade even pettier", said Mena in a press conference. "Nobody who claims to defend the interests of the Catalans can vote against the budget, because it is undermining Catalans' future", he added.