NOTES

The PNB, to the rescue of Rajoy and the Basque deal

All Basque parties defend their special deal, and not even the region’s PP dares to speak out against a tax status lacking in solidarity that represents a privilege over the rest of Spain

By saving Rajoy's budget, the Basque Nationalist Party has done what it has always done. They negotiate and cash their check. Without Catalonia’s sentimentality. While Catalonia tried to reform the Spanish state and talked of responsibility, the Basques negotiated with the ability to influence provided by shots in the back one November night and car bombs in a barracks or a supermarket. You are not supposed to say so, but the privileged position afforded to them by the Basque Country’s unique finance agreement with Madrid is not due only to historical tradition and the Pujol government's rejection of tax collection powers. It is also the result of finely honed skills in political negotiation and the deterrent factor provided by the violent sector in the Basque Country.

The result today is that a resident of the Basque Country (6% of Spanish GDP) receives more than double per capita spending than someone who lives in Catalonia (19% of GDP). Another differentiating factor is that all Basque parties defend their special deal, and not even the region’s PP dares to speak out against a tax status lacking in solidarity that represents a privilege over the rest of Spain.

Catalonia has stopped complaining and wishing to transform Spain. When someone still asks why, you could go over the workings of the Spanish financing system and the list of examples of non-compliance towards Catalonia, even when an improvement had been agreed upon. But the compromising spirit is on the wane: negotiations require trust, and in Catalonia that trust has been broken not only by Spain's lack of follow-through, but also by the fact that, politically, Catalans are no longer interested in dwelling in victimhood. There is no room for two special fiscal agreements in Spain, and Catalonia must be well aware of it.

EDICIÓ PAPER 14/09/2019

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