Politics 27/03/2021

Aragonès fails at the first attempt, and JxCat moves away from immediate agreement

ERC asks its partners to put "excuses" aside and invest the Republican candidate on Tuesday

4 min
The candidate of Esquerra, Pere Aragonès, yesterday during the investiture debate.

Barcelona"The results of 14-F are clear", Pere Aragonès repeated as he responded to the parliamentary groups in his investiture debate. So clear that the only viable option to form a Government, once the crossed vetoes are discounted, is through an agreement between ERC, JxCat and the CUP. This Friday, however, the Auditorium of the Catalan Parliament, the same one where on October 10, 2017 the pro-independence MPs signed the commitment to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, became another space to publicly express their divergences. To the point that the president of the JxCat group, Albert Batet, asked Aragonès to no longer submit to a second vote - yesterday he lost the first - on Tuesday: "We formally ask him to renounce to the second vote until there is a pro-independence agreement". "He knows that there is no time to reach a good agreement because of how the negotiations are going", he added, dismantling the positive references made earlier by his interlocutor.

"We have the obligation after a month and 14 days to reach an agreement. The situation of economic and social urgency does not admit delays. Covid does not wait. Nor does repression. And we need strong institutions", replied the still vice-president of the Generalitat, who completely ruled out withdrawing his candidacy for investiture. According to him, not only "there are no insurmountable differences" but those that exist "are smaller than those that have been present in previous investiture procedures". ERC has been vehemently recalling in recent days that they have invested in the past the candidates of JxCat and PDECat without further fuss. "We really don't understand", said Republican spokeswoman Marta Vilalta at the end of the day. "Those who don't want an agreement are looking for excuses. And those who do, like us, seeks solutions", she said, and criticised the attitude of JxCat, who did not even applauded Aragonès.

Junts' request echoed in the speeches of the spokespersons that followed. For example, in that of the leader of the comuns, Jéssica Albiach, who considered it a "humiliation". "How long will you keep putting up with it?" she asked the ERC bench, and urged them to end the current relationship and open up to a new majority with PSC and En Comú Podem. Aragonès, on the other hand, continues to bet on the "broad road", which, in addition to the three pro-independence parties, includes the comuns, although they stopped negotiating weeks ago.

At a quarter to eleven in the morning the candidate's speech had begun, forty-five minutes later than planned due to the discussion at the bureau on the delegation of vote of the ex MP in exile Lluís Puig. Aragonès had then asked to put an end to the "distrust" in order not to spoil "a historic opportunity": in the last elections, the independence movement exceeded 50% of the votes. Even regarding this issue JxCat and ERC do not agree on how to materialize the result.

Aragonès has praised Dolors Sabater and the CUP, the only formation with which ERC has managed to sign an agreement so far, but had balanced references to the comuns and JxCat - one to each - and those of Carles Puigdemont had felt slighted, according to what sources of the formation explain to the ARA. In a tweet, the secretary general of Junts, Jordi Sànchez, criticised the speech stating that he had not seen "interest" in counting on his party.

Government goals

Negotiations will continue over the next few days -JxCat denies that it wants to force new elections- and Aragonès will have to continue to bear the weight of history before becoming the 132nd president of the Generalitat, the first with an ERC card since Josep Tarradellas - throughout the day he cited former leaders of the party and also current ones, as Oriol Junqueras and Marta Rovira, but also Pasqual Maragall-. Friday, the candidate had time to set out the broad outlines of the "republican Generalitat" that he wants to build. Three main goals guide this proposal: "to face the urgencies and inequalities" of the country from a left-wing vision, with a shock plan of 700 million euros; economic recovery with "a new productive model that measures its strength in terms of prosperity and welfare for everyone", and "to direct the resolution of the political conflict by making amnesty and self-determination inevitable".

In the pact with the CUP, ERC has agreed on a control mechanism to evaluate in two years the fruits of the dialogue with the Spanish government. Aragonès will then be submitted to a question of confidence in Parliament. Yesterday he announced, without specifics, that he will convene a "national agreement for amnesty and self-determination", a new structure that brings together parties, institutions and entities. Time will tell if it is a of a 3.0 version of the Pacte Nacional pel Dret a Decidir, or the new coordinating body that JxCat and ERC are unable to agree on: the former insist on the Consell per la República, and the latter only accept it if it is "reformulated" first.

"I cannot guarantee that it will work out. What is clear to me is that the alternative leads us to continue blocked in a stage of repression and paralysis", he added. He did not speak of unilateralism nor did he set an expiration date for the dialogue: "I understand the skepticism, because we know the state and the only certainty we have is that it will be a very difficult negotiation. Surely the most difficult that the Generalitat has ever done". Recovering the "strategic unity" of 1-O will be key, according to him, to achieve results.

42 votes in favor, 32 abstentions and 61 votes against, among which are those of Salvador Illa (PSC), who still claims to want to direct the Generalitat. Aragonès is obliged to keep trying. He already has the yes of the cupaires, who on friday remarked that this legislature has to be of "conflict and confrontation". "Catalonia is still six years later in the hands of the CUP", expressed yesterday Alejandro Fernandez (PP). It is true, but now it is not the anticapitalists who maintain the uncertainty.