Esquerra and Junts resume negotiations to agree on a government programme

Torrent makes Madaula's appointment to parliamentary bureau subject to Aragonès's investiture

3 min
Pere Aragonès addresses the Parliament Auditorium during the investiture debate.

The start of the negotiations after Easter is slower than expected. On the first working day after Easter, Tuesday, there was no formal meeting between the ERC and Junts negotiators, and this Wednesday afternoon there has only been one meeting, which lasted little more than two hours. According to sources familiar with the talks, they have discussed the government programme, but have not yet talked about the structure the executive should have and the distribution of cabinet posts.

While in the last failed investiture debate, on the Tuesday before Easter, most sources believed possible the formation of an executive before April 23, they now reckon the agreement will come later. "It's going slowly," they say, and secrecy is maintained on the issues that are holding up the formation of the executive. Once the stumbling block of the Consell per la República (CxR) was removed - there is still no agreement but it is now being discussed in another forum outside the main negotiating teams, within the CxR itself - the content of the talks is the government programme and the distribution of portfolios.

However, there is an omnipresent aspect where no agreement has been reached and is hindering the advance of the negotiation: the lack of a shared direction in the pro-independence strategy. Junts wants to agree on a shared path in all the parliamentary chambers, also in Madrid, and to agree on an audit of the results of the negotiating table - to which ERC's agreement with the CUP gives a margin of two years. So far Esquerra has refused to condition its actions in the Spanish Parliament and this Wednesday its leader in the Spanish chamber, Gabriel Rufián, has again rejected the idea: "It is complicated to want to impose your conditions when you have four MPs".

Roger Torrent looking at his phone

Torrent's conditions

In the last hours, one more element has been added to the negotiation: the substitution of Jaume Alonso Cuevillas after Junts has removed him from the parliamentary bureau for having shown himself in favour of vetoing the resolutions that could entail a disqualification. This Wednesday Cuevillas has presented his resignation as second secretary and his place has been vacated pending a plenary session to choose his replacement. Carles Puigdemont's party has proposed Aurora Madaula as a substitute, but the former president of the Parliament Roger Torrent has linked Esquerra's support to Aragonès's investiture of Pere Aragonès. "In this will of global agreement and bases of trust, two things have to be given: that there is this substitution at the table and at the same time Aragonès is invested," Torrent remarked in an interview on Catalunya Ràdio.

It is the first time that the Republicans have publicly stated that the replacement of Cuevillas is subject to Junts' support of for the investiture of the Republican candidate. This condition has has not pleased Junts, which considers that ERC should not oppose Madaula's appointment. In fact, the new president of the chamber, Laura Borràs, showed on Tuesday her confidence that they would receive ERC backing. She said: "We have already replaced members of the bureau before and there has never been any problem, we hope that now there will not be any problems either". "We appeal to the responsibility and the agreements taken," she added after En Comú suggested Lucas Ferro occupy this position, which could also receive the support of the PSC.

CUP, on the other hand, has already pledged to vote for Madaula in order to maintain the same pro-independence majority on the bureau. At a press conference, CUP spokesman Pau Juvillà, has rejected linking Cuevillas's substitution of to the investiture as ERC does: "We will not participate in an exchange of posts". Juvillà believes En Comú would not guarantee the sovereignty of Parliament would be exercised, the rights of MPs defended and fascism confronted. In any case, he has also announced that they will ask for a meeting with Junts to ask for explanations about Cuevillas's statements and to make sure that "it does not happen again".

Cs and Vox demand control sessions

The next decision, then, that Borràs will have to take is whether to convene a plenary session before another investiture debate to complete parliamentary bureau or wait and do everything at the same time as Esquerra wants. However, Ciudadanos and Vox defintely do want plenary sessions before the election of Aragonès: they denounce the lack of control on the current Government. This Wednesday they requested the government appear fortnightly before MPs to give explanations on how it is dealing with the pandemic and the measures it is taking.