Independentism pushes negotiations over the Parliamentary Bureau to the limit

JxCat will reveal today whether Borràs will opt for the presidency of the Parliament or whether it will propose a plan B

Cesc Maideu
3 min
Aragonés, Borràs and Sabater at Thursday's conference.

As has become customary in Catalan politics in recent years, negotiations are running out of time. The composition of the Parliamentary Bureau that will emerge from the 14 February elections will be no exception, and in the end everything points to the pro-independence supporters closing the negotiations in extremis. This Wednesday Esquerra, JxCat and the CUP met again in a three-way meeting in Parliament, but ended the meeting without a common position. Carles Puigdemont's party announced in the afternoon that it will present a candidacy to preside over the Parliament, which clashes with the CUP's aspirations to lead the chamber. Before the Parliament is constituted this Friday, a 24-hour negotiation against the clock is underway to find out whether or not there is finally an agreement on the governing body of the chamber.

The doubt that has not been revealed this Wednesday is the name that Junts proposes to preside the Parliament, which could be the candidate, Laura Borràs, or a plan B if she chooses to go to the Government. According to party sources, it is expected that this Thursday morning the permanent or the executive of Junts will meet to close the candidacy. As ARA published, most of the party's leaders are in favour of Borràs, but she has the last word. In two interviews with Catalunya Ràdio and Els matins de TV3 on Wednesday, former president Carles Puigdemont said that the Junts candidate would be a "fantastic" president of the Catalan parliament, but stressed that it is up to her to decide "what she wants to do".

Junts considers that, according to the electoral results, it is up to them to lead the country's second institution, as this has been the case since 2015, when Esquerra was the second party of the pro-independence majority. "It would be logical", said Puigdemont. However, he has a competitor, the CUP, who, as advanced by ARA, also aspires to pilot the Catalan chamber and has already put the name of the deputy Pau Juvillà on the table. The Coordinadora Oberta Parlamentària (COP), which brings together representatives of the territorial assemblies and the organisations that make up the candidacy, has validated the leadership's proposal to opt for the presidency of the Parliament. In a meeting that lasted two hours, the CUP approved it, according to ARA, with 11 votes in favour, one against and three abstentions. Previously, in an interview with Radio 4 and La 2, the elected MP and member of the negotiations Eulàlia Reguant said that right now there is no alternative to Juvillà, since they are still waiting for a "firm commitment from JxCat" and the "person" of Puigdemont's party. Junts sources downplay the complaints: they assure that they have already warned that they would not negotiate their candidates with the Republicans and the cupaires and point out that in 2018 they voted for the candidate proposed to them by Esquerra, Roger Torrent.

Once Junts presents its candidate, it remains to be seen whether ERC and CUP support him or her. The key to everything, in reality, lies with Esquerra, since the two pro-independence parties have enough votes to secure the presidency if they vote jointly. But ERC sources avoid clarifying whether they would vote in favour of a Junts presidency and stress that they want a "global agreement with the three pro-independence parties". Even so, they also regret that Junts has not put its cards on the table and has not clarified the candidate it is proposing. Publicly, the party's deputy secretary general, Marta Vilalta, in statements to TV3, has limited herself to saying that they have "intensified" negotiations and that they are working for a "pro-independence and left-wing" majority at the Bureau.

The Bureau: only the first step

The Bureau is only the first litmus test of the investiture and, once the Parliament is constituted, there will still be a long way to go in the negotiations. The government pact "will not be quick or easy", admitted Puigdemont, while Reguant assured that "political details are lacking" and that what "is on the table is insufficient".

What is beginning to be defined, however, are the actors who will eventually form part of the executive: Esquerra and Junts. Although the CUP is necessary for the investiture, the cupaires have already said that they are "far from" participating in a government, while the Comunes, which Esquerra wanted to incorporate, have already been left out of the negotiation. Sources consulted by ARA confirm that this idea has already been abandoned. "ERC has chosen", regretted sources from the party led by Jéssica Albiach in allusion to Junts per Catalunya, despite the fact that they are not giving up their desire to form part of the Parliamentary Bureau, reports Aleix Moldes. It is precisely with the Republicans (and also with the PSC) with whom they have been in contact to opt for a secretariat that is currently not guaranteed. As always in Catalan politics, everything will come down to the last minute.