Politics 27/04/2021

Aragonès to participate in meeting with JxCat in Lledoners

Presidential candidate will address structure of future Government with Jordi Sànchez

4 min
Jordi Sànchez and Pere Aragonès talking, in an archive image.

BarcelonaThe national coordinator of Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and vice president of the Government, Pere Aragonès, is entering the scene and will participate directly in the negotiation with JxCat to try to make a breakthrough in the negotiations. The Republicans have confirmed on Monday that Aragonès will be directly involved in the meeting that ERC and Together for Catalonia (JxCat) will hold on Tuesday in Lledoners. The meeting, advanced by Nació Digital, will have as its main purpose agreeing on a structure for the future government. JxCat hopes that Aragonès will put forwarda global proposal so they can prepare a counterproposal. As it is the first meeting between the parties to deal with this subject, neither party expects it to be the last. Nevertheless, ERC has once again put pressure on JxCat so that there are no more delays: "An agreement is needed this week," said ERC MP and member of the negotiating team Sergi Sabrià.

Monday marks one month before the deadline for closing the negotiation: 26 May. If by then there is no agreement, Catalonia will return to the polls. Esquerra has once again expressed its surprise at not having been able to reach an agreement with JxCat. They consider that there is no "insurmountable obstacle" that slows down the agreement and add that, amidst a pandemic and with an interim executive for the last seven months - since the disqualification of Quim Torra - "we cannot wait any longer".

On the other hand, the spokeswoman for JxCat, Elsa Artadi, at a press conference, has accused the Republicans of maintaining "a double discourse". According to her, they launch "ultimatums" in public - such as the date of May 1 - but do not keep to them in private: "It is incomprehensible to us," she said. She has also avoided giving a date for the final agreement and has pointed out that the sectorial groups for the government programme began to work last week. She reproached Esquerra that "ten days ago" they asked for a meeting to deal exclusively with the structure of the executive and that only this Tuesday in Lledoners will the proposal be presented to them

Elsa Artadi at JxCat HQ

Structure of the Government

The meeting this Tuesday between the negotiating teams of JxCat and ERC will not be, as usually, in the offices of Parliament or online, but held within the walls of Lledoners prison. According to JxCat, Esquerra wanted the meeting to be presential to treat the structure of government and Aragonès himself will participate directly - as they also had claimed-. According to sources familiar with the negotiation, right now four interlocutors are outlined in the meeting: Aragonès; Sànchez; the president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, and another member of the negotiating team of JxCat.

In spite of wanting to close a pact the sooner the better, ERC has tried to reduce the importance of the meeting, taking a shot at JxCat in the process: "It is another meeting and we attend with will of agreement. We see that JxCat is creating a lot of expectations. We would like it to be a sign meaning that their organisation is also in a position of moving forward," said Sabrià.

JxCat has also wanted to play it down, because Artadi has affirmed that it was only a meeting for Esquerra to present its proposal for the government's structure. According to the spokeswoman, the Republicans have so far only made "partial" proposals for the creation of new departments - such as Feminisms, Climate Action and Universities and Research - and said that they will not comment until they do not know through Aragonès the entire structure that the candidate has in mind. "We know from the media that he does not want an inflation of departments, but we hope that he will inform us."

JxCat believes it unlikely there will be an agreement this week. Artadi has remarked that the sectoral working groups to address the government programme were created just a few days ago - the first meeting was the social part - and has pointed out that the Republicans still have to respond on the institutional part of the programme.

Govern alone?

Aragonès will be presented to the appointment after having said, in an interview with the ARA, that unless an agreement was reached, ERC would have to explore "alternatives". Does this mean a pact for ERC to govern alone? Sabrià has explained that his party does not rule it out, but still thinks that maintaining an ERC-JxCat coalition government is the best way out. He has even assured that they would prioritise a coalition government even if JxCat exhausts the deadline of May 1: "We are willing to govern with JxCat and, therefore, to form this coalition at any time and at any tempo". The Republicans know that a single-party government would allow them to have a more united executive, but it would also be a Government weakened when facing the Parliament, because it would only have 33 deputies of the 135 of the chamber. Each vote could become a struggle. Be that as it may, Sabrià has said that in any case they only consider a "pro-independence" government, thus excluding an eventual pact that would include the comuns and the Socialist party.

Artadi has played down the importance of the ultimatum of May 1 and has advanced that right now she cannot give a schedule for the agreement beyond the legal limit of May 26: "You have to ask ERC what will happen if we go past this date. They are the ones who have set it."

The spokeswoman stressed that "progress is being made" in the government programme and that the priority formula for JxCat is a coalition government with the Republicans. Thus, she has lowered the possibility of being left out, which would be raised to the party's executive if a "good agreement" with ERCis not reached. "Today our mandate is to negotiate a coalition government".