ERC leads the pro-independence bloc and Aragonès already sees himself as 'president'
The Republican will stand for president and seek a Government with JxCat, the CUP and En Comú
BarcelonaHaving been at the gates of victory has never been so pleasant for Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC). Favoured in the polls for years, it ended up seeing how it was overtaken by the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) at the last moment in votes, but it achieved its main goal: unlike three years ago, ERC obtained one more seat than Together for Catalonia (JxCat), the other main pro-independence party, and this allows them to claim the right to lead the next Generalitat and unseat their current partner in the Government. Yesterday they did it. It is not the victory of 88 years ago that they claimed in the campaign, but it is far from being the defeat of December 2017, and the results can once again place a republican President at the head of the Generalitat.
Despite all the difficulties that are sensed on the horizon, the ERC candidate, Pere Aragonès, already advanced yesterday that he would stand in Parliament to be invested president. He sees a "new stage" is underway which, "under the leadership of ERC", will bring Catalonia closer to an amnesty for the repressed, to self-determination and to a post-pandemic reconstruction from the left. He even sent a message to the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez: "It is time to resolve the conflict and resolve it by voting in a referendum". The president of the party, Oriol Junqueras, highlighted the results historical importance, proclaiming that "for the first time in 80 years ERC will once again hold the presidency of the Generalitat".
Now that ERC has obtained victory within the pro-independence bloc, Aragonès will have to try to apply what he pledged to do in campaign: a "broad" government that includes JxCat, CUP and En Comú, a task that seems difficult to carry to fruition, taking into account that the candidacy of Laura Borràs and Jéssica Albiach maintain crossed vetoes. Despite the difficulties, Aragonès already took the initiative yesterday and announced that, "immediately", he will seek a "programmatic agreement" with all these forces to move forward the investiture and form the next executive. He also maintained the veto to any agreements with the PSC.
The future of the Independence bid
ERC's victory within the pro-independence bloc has several consequences in terms of the future of the Independence bid. Since the frustrated declaration of independence in the fall of 2017, the Republicans have reformulated their pro-independence strategy. Their new strategy prioritises negotiation with the State towards an agreed referendum and leaves aside unilateral processes. In addition, they have also decided to become a key player in Congress, reaching agreements with the PSOE as relevant as the investiture of Pedro Sánchez, the state budget or the creation of a negotiating table to address the political conflict. The results of 14-F reinforce this pragmatic turn of Junqueras' party, which is not guaranteed to be easier to apply from now on. Its advantage over JxCat, more reluctant to dialogue, is very small.
ERC has not achieved the electoral victory it wanted but has kept ahead of JxCat. This, for the Republicans, was enough yesterday. From today they know that nothing will be easy for them.