ERC proposes to unite Climate Action and Foreign Affairs within a Government with 14 Departments
Feminisms will be a department on its own
BarcelonaTuesday's meeting at Lledoners prison was the first in which the negotiators of Esquerra and Junts approached the structure of the Govern. Specifically, the vice president, Pere Aragonès, presented his proposal to articulate the executive - number of departments and the areas that it would include - to the Junts leadership, headed by the secretary general of the party, Jordi Sànchez. According to several sources consulted by ARA, the republicans put on the table a total of 14 Departments -although they had said that there would be 13 as until now. This would include a huge department in charge of Climate Action and Foreign Affairs and the creation of a new Department for Feminisms. Consulted by ARA, sources close to Aragonès ruled out making assessments on a proposal that, they stress, is just beginning to be negotiated and therefore can be modified: "The important thing is not what party is in each department, but to create a structure of Government that is useful," they remarked.
This implies substantial changes in the distribution of current areas and one of the most affected areas is the Department of Territory and Sustainability, which is currently under Damià Calvet. The powers that have to do with sustainability and the environment would become part of a department of Climate Action -one of Aragonès's electoral promises - that would join the competences of Foreign Affairs, which is now also in charge of institutional affairs and transparency. This would imply the creation of a broad department that would bring together the projection of the Generalitat outside Catalonia together with everything to do with climate change, which is one of the axes that Aragonès wants to promote.
These competences of sustainability would be separated from those of Territory, which would revert to the role it had until 2010, dealing with public works and housing policy.
There would also be a newly created Department of Feminisms, which has also been one of Aragonès's bets from the start of the election campaign. This implies that the proportion between the two parties would be different from the current coalition government. Until now, Junts had six Departments and the presidency of the Generalitat, while Esquerra led seven departments. ERC's proposal adds one Department more, meaning each party would be in charge of seven Departments and ERC would take the presidency.
Be that as it may, this is only the scheme by Pere Aragonès and Junts has not been pronounced: that is, everything is subject to negotiation and it is most likely that there will be changes as a result of the talks ahead. Carles Puigdemont's party has to discuss it internally and it will be at the end of this week or early next week when they will respond. Even so, a point of conflict is already discernible: Foreign Affairs is a Department which is already in dispute, since Junts aspires to recover it while Aragonès wants to keep it in its ranks. Another of the points of friction will be the management of European funds, since in its proposal Esquerra maintains the creation of a commissioner dependent on the president. JxCat admits that this will be a bone of contention: they consider Department of Vice-Presidency and Economy, which they should control, ought to be responsible for the funds.
The scheme that Esquerra put on the table on Tuesday in Lledoners varies from the document the party had sent to Junts after Easter, which addressed the global government agreement. In the text there were only some general indications of the distribution of powers that ERC has changed. For example, housing, in that proposal, was linked to social welfare policies.
Distributing the Departments
The conversation on Tuesday in Lledoners served to put forward a first draft of the new executive, but according to several sources, they did not start putting names forward to head each department. That is to say, individuals for each post will not be considered until the number of Departments and their responsibilities has been decided.
Today, this part of the negotiation -together with that of the strategy for the Independence bid- is where least progress has been made. Esquerra and Junts also noted on Tuesday that they are still stuck on the role of the Consell per la República and keeping to the same strategy in the Spanish parliament, which they have been discussing for two months as part of the negotiations. On the other hand, more progress has been made towards coordination and avoiding the public rows that marred the last coalition.