The differences and similarities between Junts and ERC, the partners that Sánchez needs to achieve the investiture

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Archive image. Carles Puigdemont and Oriol Junqueras just before announcing the date and question of the referendum on the independence of Catalonia that they called on October 17, 2017. (EFE)

When talking about pro-independence parties, there is a tendency to lump them all together because, evidently, they have a common objective: self-determination in Catalonia. However, ideologically, the two main formations on which Pedro Sánchez currently depends, ERC and Junts, have little to do with each other if he wants to revalidate his position as president in the Government of Spain.

First of all, Republican Left It is a party that is located on the left (as its name indicates). In fact, he has been one of the main partners of the coalition government during the last term - although the matter was complicated by the scandal of the Pegasus case and the espionage of Catalan leaders - and in social matters he has been demanding, especially in matters of living place. As defined on its own website, its main objective is to achieve “a more just and supportive society, without inequalities between people and territories.” And he adds that, to achieve this, the objective is “to achieve the independence of Catalonia.”

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For its part, the movements of Together, a party with less history than ERC - it was registered in 2018 and has its origins in the former Convergència i Unió - make it more difficult to define its ideology. In addition to considering that "all nations have the right to self-determination" and recalling on their website that they have "very much in mind the commitment of October 1", Carles Puigdemont's party considers itself "transversal", or in other words, a formation catch-all.

But the ideology of a party is seen with its actions, not its words. It is interesting to see how Wikipedia defines Junts' positions: Catalan independence, populism, unilateralism, personalism, transversality and direct democracy. It could well be either a left-wing or a right-wing party with this description. This transversality serves to defend liberal positions, more typical of the right, and to position itself in favor of social justice, more defended by the left. And that's what they've done these last four years: go from side to side.

If we analyze the goals of both formations that have a possible future PSOE and Sumar Government in their hands, what they have in common is the self-determination of Catalonia. No renunciation of its origins, despite the fact that the crisis in the Catalan region is not the same as in 2017, when the PP Executive refused to sit down to negotiate. In this past legislature, the dialogue table with Catalonia has been one of the protagonists, although it is advancing at a slow pace.

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However, the PP already announced before the 23-J elections that, if it managed to govern after the call to the polls, it would deactivate this dialogue table. “Yes, I will ask the Generalitat of Catalonia, in addition to maintaining a fluid dialogue with its authorities, to join the multilateral table that is the Conference of Presidents and the Fiscal and Financial Policy Council,” said Alberto Nuñez Feijóo in an interview. with The Spanish Newspaper.

The leader of ERC, Oriol Junqueras; the ERC spokesperson in Congress, Gabriel Rufián and the ERC deputy Montserrat Bassa, upon their arrival at the Congress of Deputies on September 19. (EDUARDO PARRA/ EUROPA PRESS)
The leader of ERC, Oriol Junqueras; the ERC spokesperson in Congress, Gabriel Rufián and the ERC deputy Montserrat Bassa, upon their arrival at the Congress of Deputies on September 19. (EDUARDO PARRA/ EUROPA PRESS)

Therefore, they share Catalan independence, nationalism and unilateralism. In fact, one of the demands formulated the PSOE and Sumar in exchange for negotiating the amnesty is that both renounce unilateralism. Something they have refused. “We are not renouncing any democratic path, but obviously we prioritize the path of negotiation,” responded Raquel Sans, spokesperson for the Republicans.

Both parties have arrived united, after a relationship of many ups and downs, to the sixth anniversary of October 1, 2017. And they have presented a proposed resolution so that the pro-independence forces in Congress Do not give your support to an eventual investiture of Pedro Sánchez if he does not commit to working on a referendum in Catalonia.

The differences are greater. ERC's ideology is clear: beyond independence, it highlights social democracy, left-wing nationalism and republicanism. But it is difficult to make Junts clear. Of course, it is best to go to the examples to see where these parties are located on the political spectrum.

If we look at what has possibly been the greatest milestone of the first coalition government, the labour reform, approved by chance in February 2022, Puigdemont's people voted against it. ERC and Bildu also gave their no, but because they asked to take the reform further. Junts' excuse was that ““It excluded 99.8% of the Catalan business community”in the words of its spokesperson in the Congress of Deputies, Míriam Nogueras, a conservative position and in defense of the business community.

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The same thing happened a year later in the vote of the housing law. A curious position, since shortly before they had supported the idea of ​​limiting rents in Catalonia. But the Catalan economic sectors should not have been happy. Economically, Junts has opted for more liberal positions: He abstained from the gas cap, for example. Although he later upset himself by voting in favor of raising taxes on banking and energy profits. To give another example, in August 2022 it abstained from approving the new self-employed contribution system.

And what happened to social laws? Well, everything. Junts does not follow a pattern, but its position on any issue is a mystery as long as it is not about the independence of Catalonia. He voted in favor of laws such as trans or yes is yes, although he did not hesitate to be the first to demand a reform of the latter as soon as the first problems arose after the reduction of sentences. Socially, in general, he has been in tune with the Sánchez Government, except with the Democratic Memory which, like the PP, voted against.

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