Friday, January 07, 2005

IF ZAPATERO is sincere in his refusal of the Ibarretxe plan -which may not be a big, but certainly a medium if-, he's gonna get in trouble with some of his coalition partners:
The Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, is facing the biggest test of his authority after a separatist group threatened to bring down his government in an escalating row over Basque independence.

The Catalan Republican Left is angry that Mr Zapatero has rejected a plan for increased regional independence passed by the Basque parliament last week. Mr Zapatero aligned himself with the centre-right opposition in turning down the plan, which he says runs counter to the principles of the Spanish constitution.

[...] The leader of the Catalan separatists, Joan Puigcercós, has stepped up the pressure with his threat to sink the Socialist administration. "The Basques are aware that they [the Socialists] will have to negotiate," he said. "If they say no outright, then this legislature will be over."

Yesterday the Socialists tried to play down the crisis. "We're very relaxed about this," a spokesperson said. "The budget for this year has already been passed so there is no question that we will continue to govern."

Nevertheless, it was clear that the prime minister would find himself severely restricted if the Catalans turned against him. Mr Zapatero's Socialists are 12 seats short of an outright majority in the Spanish parliament. The Catalan Republican Left, with eight deputies, has proved a key ally.
Worth noting too something out of the Guardian report: the Catalan Republican Left party is also key, more than in Madrid because they hold all the decisive seats (not just 8 out of 12 as in the national parliament), of the coalition supporting Socialist Pasqual Maragall as president of the autonomous community of Catalonia, the relevant regions whose capital is Barcelona.

So they have quite a leverage over Zapatero: if they break up, he and his party might even lose both the national and the Catalan government, a country's key region.

Yes, the stakes are that high.