There are times when the axes of a country move with a bang. And there are others in which interesting movements occur without a huge noise. Yesterday, under the heat of the summer and with some of the cannons of the Madrid press on vacation, Junts per Catalunya crossed the border.
The successor formation of Convergència Democràtica, the current that best knows the political desires and psychological springs of an important part of Catalan society - to the point that today they do not want to be called convergent -, is cautiously returning to Spanish politics. The convergent gene is eventually reactivated. It does so with many precautions, demanding certificates and setting political and material conditions that will be the subject of intense discussion in a few weeks, but it is crossing the border. It has not yet arrived in Girona. It is in Besalú, not far from Amer.
It may seem like a domestic affair of Catalan society, with little appeal for the rest of Spain, but it is of general interest, as Alberto Núñez Feijóo knows very well, who yesterday attended the constitution of the new Congress with a face of concern and abstract gesture, because this border crossing cannot be administered by the conservative party.
Pay attention to the following data. For the first time in a long time, in Spain there is no relevant and representative political group camped on the margins of the system, by their own will or as a result of the vicissitudes of the political struggle. They are all inside, with wishes to influence the Spanish Parliament. Inside is EH Bildu, and now the heirs of Convergència, who crossed the border for very different reasons six years ago, are returning. In the contemporary history of Spain, there has almost always been someone camped outside the walls, in exile, in hiding or in forced ostracism. The last episode of strangeness has entered the correction phase. This is the most substantive news of yesterday.
More news Just three months ago, barely a month ago, proposing the immediate introduction of Catalan, Basque and Galician in Congress debates would have caused an impressive fight. The PSOE would not have dared for fear of losing votes in many parts of Spain. Yesterday, Francina Armengol, the new president of the Congress, ended her welcome speech by announcing that from the next session, these three languages will be able to be used, in addition to Spanish.
Núñez Feijóo, dolenção leader of the main branch of the Spanish right, who has preferentially used Galician throughout his intense political career in Galicia, knows that this is not today a good battlefield for the construction of a solid alternative liberal conservative in Spain. Another thing is what Isabel Díaz Ayuso and Vox think.
In a few months, the paradox may arise that it will be easier to speak Catalan in Congress than in some areas of Valencian and Balearic societies, where the extreme right wants to revive the linguistic battle. The attitude adopted by the PP on this issue in the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands will be of great political importance. The spotlights are on and will be visible from Brussels.
The language question has been at the center of the negotiation between the current Government and the Junts. When a few weeks ago Yolanda Díaz proposed facilitating the use of co-official languages in Congress, she was speaking with knowledge of the cause. When the day before yesterday Pedro Sánchez committed to his deputies and senators to work actively for the official recognition of Catalan in the European Union and the Council of Europe, he was also speaking with knowledge of the cause. This has been one of the central demands of Carles Puigdemont. The Junts leader wants to lead this cause in the European Parliament with the active support of the Spanish Government. At some point – if an investiture agreement is reached – Puigdemont will physically cross the border. Now he wants to go through another one: to stop being perceived as a marginal politician in Europe. Gain consideration and respect. A far-reaching European election will be held in June next year and he will surely be a candidate again.
Third news of the day. The abrupt rupture of the Popular Party with Vox. After learning of the PSOE's agreement with Junts and Esquerra for the election of Armengol, the PP informed Vox that it would not give him the promised place on the Board. Vox took note, did not say anything and when the votes began to be read, the name of one of its veteran deputies began to be heard: the Valencian Ignacio Gil Lázaro. Vox was voting for itself. Núñez Feijóo was perplexed in his seat. No one had informed him of this. The voting ended with 139 votes for Cuca Gamarra: the 137 of the PP, plus a seat from the Unió del Poble Navarro and the pious contribution of Coalició Canària, which decided to align itself with the popular ones after trying to lead a third via in cooperation with the Basque Nationalist Party.
One hundred and thirty-nine votes and the support of Vox in the air. This is the capital with which Núñez Feijóo will go to the King's consultation. Sánchez cannot claim to have 178 votes for the investiture, but yesterday the political dynamic that could lead to a majority was set in motion. If the vote of the Congress Bureau also served to measure strength in the face of the investiture, the PP has a problem. Socialists consider their leader to be the most likely candidate. The PP does not nominally renounce the investiture and continues to mention the King in each of the statements about it. "We are convinced that the King...". The PSOE considers that these insinuations constitute an attempt to pressure the head of state. Sánchez expressed it on Tuesday in front of his deputies. Felipe VI will take a decision in the exercise of his powers, established by article 99 of the Constitution, which states the following: "After each renewal of the Congress of Deputies, and in the other constitutional cases in which it proceeds, the King, after consultation with the representatives appointed by the political groups with parliamentary representation, and through the president of Congress, will propose a candidate for the presidency of the Government". They come from days of intense discussion about the scope and meaning of this article.
Recapitulating Sánchez has added a first block of 178 votes, which do not guarantee him anything, but start a dynamic. The PP and Vox are at war. The Congress will speak in Catalan, Basque and Galician. I Junts has crossed the border with the help of the Basque Nationalist Party. This is another important and significant fact. The Basque nationalists have played mugalaris. They have experience there. A rapprochement between Junts and the PNB is taking place, after the distance six years ago. Sabin Etxea has been aware of the negotiations and has suggested some moves. For example, they were in favor of Armengol's candidacy. They did not aspire to the presidency of the Congress – an initiative of the president of the Canary Islands advanced to La Vanguardia – but they did aspire to have a place on the Table. They don't hide it. And they do not feel well treated by the PSOE. Perhaps this is the only mistake made these days by Sánchez's team. Now comes another test.