Aragonès limits negotiations with JxCat to facilitating his investiture only
Republican presidential candidate says he is counting on JxCat's 32 seats, not just 4
The general coordinator of Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and acting vice president of the Catalan Government, Pere Aragonès, has today definitively closed the door to try to achieve a coalition agreement with Together for Catalonia (JxCat) and has limited negotiations with JxCat to being invested president. "The talks with JxCat will be to facilitate the investiture, not to form a government," he has warned, and has remarked that their participation in government can be addressed furhter on. "We can talk later, but we can not continue with this blockade," he stressed in an interview on Tv3.
Aragonès has said that he trusts that JxCat will keep its word and vote him in for a minority government. "We counted and still count on JxCat's 32 MPs, and if they set new conditions they will have to explain because they said they would facilitate an ERC government," he said. He added that he distrusts JxCat's "public declarations". "If we put aside what separates us we can reach an agreement quickly. My priority is that the 32 deputies of JxCat facilitate the investiture as ERC has done since 2012 with Artur Mas, Carles Puigdemont, Jordi Turull, Quim Torra and also now with Laura Borràs [for the parliamentary speakership] because it was understood that these votes would have a correspondence", he added to demand a gesture of responsibility from his hitherto coalition partner. Otherwise, we might be heading towards repeat elections.
Aragonès has made these statements after on Sunday vice president of JxCat and member of the negotiating team Elsa Artadi, stressed that the four votes that the secretary general of his party, Jordi Sànchez, had considered lending Esquerra if they also reached an agreement with CUP and En Comú Podem are not guaranteed. "JxCat has never said it will give away free votes to Aragonès," he reiterated.
Aragonès appeared this Saturday at the party headquarters to certify that the negotiation with JxCat had been exhausted. "It has been impossible to advance to a definitive agreement," he lamented, and stressed that almost three months after the elections "the fundamental disagreements" between the two parties still remain. For that reason, he urged JxCat to invest him so a government could take charge of the country, with JxCat possibly joining the executive later on.
Almost three months after the elections and after over 200 days of an acting government, Aragonès justified the need to explore other alternatives to be invested. "We cannot arrive at the doors of a new election without having tried another option," he said, and regretted that "the stumbling blocks have remained from the first moment". "It is essential to go to another scenario and we take up JxCat's proposal to start working on it," he said in reference to the constitution of a solo executive. "We have to continue talking [with JxCat], but without the pressure of new elections," he said before stating that a repeat of the elections "endangers the 52% majority" of pro-independence votes obtained in the elections.
The role of the Consell per la República, the stumbling block
Aragonès has confirmed once again that the main obstacle is the managing the pro-independence strategy. "The pro-independence majority in the Catalan Parliament has to decide on the strategy and the Consell per la República cannot supervise it. It is Parliament who should respond", he reiterated. "In the negotiations, JxCat has demanded that the Consell decide on the strategy and this takes away decision-making powers from Catalan institutions", Aragonès criticised. He also admitted that ERC proposed to JxCat that this issue be left until after the investiture, but that they have been refused because "they consider that this is a sine qua non and that it is an essential issue". After admitting that he maintains constant communication with Sànchez, Aragonès also revealed that he has spoken with Puigdemont in recent weeks and that he has conveyed to him that the final decision has to be taken by his secretary general as the head of the negotiations.
Aragonés finally explained that he has not yet asked Borràs to call the plenary session of investiture, but he has said that it has to take place "as soon as possible". He also made it clear that the agreement with the CUP "has to be respected" and taken further in view of the possibility that JxCat or the comuns would want to amend it. "We can talk with the forces that support the investiture about their role in the Government" is the only comment Aragonès offered on the possible addition of CUP or En Comú Podem to the executive.