Catalonia cannot afford another failure

2 min
Aerial image of the second debate of investiture to the Parliament

The second vote of the investiture ended as expected: without the necessary votes to make Pere Aragonès the 132nd president of the Generalitat. Junts's abstention made it impossible, and although this time the tone was much less bitter than on Friday, the two parties cannot allow Catalonia to continue without a government. Junts spokeswoman Gemma Geis expressed her conviction that there will be an agreement before the two-month period prior to the automatic call for elections elapses. On the other hand, Aragonès explicitly acknowledged the role of exiles (remember that the secretary general of ERC, Marta Rovira, is also in exile) and of Carles Puigdemont, but warned that he would not accept "neither tutelage nor substitution".

Indeed, this is the crux of the discussion. The role of the Consell per la República can never be placed above, nor even on an equal footing with, the institutions that have democratic legitimacy, which are the Parliament and the president that emerges from it. This president, moreover, must be the president of all Catalans, and must make efforts to be perceived as such by the population as a whole. We cannot ignore the fact that in recent times there has been an attempt to delegitimise the Catalan institutions (there is even now a party in Parliament that wants to abolish them), and we must fight against this disaffection that seeks to divide our society.

For this reason it is dangerous for anyone to think that the president of the Generalitat depends on someone else, and even more so if this someone else has been beaten in the elections. Another thing is that the pro-independence parties and entities have a forum where they can discuss and, eventually, agree on a common strategy or, at least, on shared guidelines. In fact, this would be highly advisable to avoid the dysfunctions we saw in the last government. It would not make sense for the two parties to go, for example, to the negotiating table with the State defending different things. It would also make sense for there to be unity of action in the Spanish Parliament in all matters related to the decisions of the Catalan government.

However, it is also true that each party has the right to have different strategies in other areas and to have room for manoeuvre to differentiate itself, for example in terms of policy in the Spanish Parliament or in the municipal sphere. ERC has every right to be a priority partner of the Spanish government if it believes it can get more out of its deputies, and Junts, as well as the CUP, also have the right to be in opposition. The final agreement must respect the political autonomy of each party, which is why they didn't run as one party in the elections and represent different electorates.

In any case, what is now urgent is to reach an agreement that puts an end to the current interim situation. We must also put an end to the unedifying spectacle being offered by the negotiating parties, which creates a climate of toxicity that does nothing to help confidence in this future coalition government. The country is not for petty quarrels on Twitter or debates about the sex of angels, but to put in place an executive and tackle the fight against the pandemic and the reconstruction of the economy.