Cuixart stands down as Òmnium president

The hitherto president believes "new leadership is needed" and proposes the philosopher Xavier Antich as his successor

4 min
Jordi Cuixart

Shake-up at the head of the independence movement. Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Cultural and one of the great symbols of the movement, announced this Friday that he is leaving the presidency of the organisation and will be relieved by philosopher Xavier Antich, current member of the board. "It is time to stand down no one is indispensable," he said on RAC 1, where he revealed that the vice president of the organisation, Marcel Mauri, will also leave office. Cuixart has been president of Òmnium since December 19, 2015, and has decided not to run for re-election for a third four-year term because he considers that "new leadership is needed" and that "we must leave room for it to emerge." From this Friday, when the general assembly has been convened to choose the new board on February 26, Cuixart will be the acting president after more than six years in office, and having held it while imprisoned over the 2017 referendum. Thus, as he has always defended, it is not the State who decides who leads the organisation.

Cuixart has taken advantage of the fact that his mandate expieres in June after he was re-elected in 2018 to make a decision that he had already been hinting at in recent interviews. Thus, he explained that he has taken the decision "without improvising" and has said that he believes that "people who had prominence in 2017 have to step aside to prepare the organisations with new leadership." Especially, he added, in the face of the "manifest inability to draw up a joint strategy". In an implicit message to the leaderships of the major pro-independence parties, he has insisted that "in the current situation, in which a shared strategy is necessary, new leadership is needed to enable this shared strategy to be carried out."

Should former president and leader of Junts, Carles Puigdemont, and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras also leave their posts? Cuixart has limited himself to answer that "Òmnium tries to lead by example", but that it is "very difficult" to say "what someone in particular has to do", and has avoided making any explicit demands. Precisely, Cuixart has revealed that he announced his decision to Puigdemont; Junqueras; the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès; and former CUP MP Anna Gabriel between Thursday night and this morning after telling Òmnium workers.

Cuixart ruled out running in elections

Cuixart recalled that he already told Mauri that if he went to prison he would have to lead the entity and that, when he was already in prison, the still vice president proposed that Antich be the president. "Antich is a very cultured, wise, feminist person who knows Òmnium very well", he said about the one who will be his successor if the members endorse him in the assembly in February. The now acting president has remarked that Mauri will not be the president because they agreed to "pass the baton on together". Mauri, in declarations also to RAC1, confirmed that he always said that his trajectory at the head of the association would be linked to Cuixart's and that he is "true to his word". Both have made it clear that in no case are they considering running as candidates in any elections. "I have no interest in political activity, I am an activist and I put myself at the disposal of Òmnium and the country, but from activism," reiterated Cuixart. Mauri spoke along the same lines.

Antich affirmed to the same radio station that he accepts the proposal to take over the presidency "out ofresponsibility" and because "it is difficult to say no". According to the writer and professor at the University of Girona, his desire is to "continue with the legacy of Cuixart and Mauri", but has not yet clarified who he will pick as his running mate. As for the steps that the independence movement has to take in the face of the Spanish government's rejection of a referendum on self-determination and amnesty, Antich has not wanted to say what the roadmap should be: "We will always be where the great consensus of Catalan society is, but Òmnium is not a political party that has to draw up the strategy," he concluded.

Independence movement thanks Cuixart for his work at the head of Òmnium

The independence movement has thanked Cuixart for the work done at the head of the organisation in the past six years. Representatives of Junts, ERC and the CUP have praised his figure for his role during the 2017 referendum and in the defence of the right to self-determination, which made him end up in prison, and En Comú thanked him for his "dedication" and "the work done for the country". The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, wanted to value his work and thanked him for "the work done and the shared struggles". "Your commitment and always positive and open attitude marks the path towards a free Catalonia," he wrote on Twitter. In addition, he has also thanked vice president Marcel Mauri "for being there in the most difficult and complex moments".

The president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, who was vice-president during the Independence referendum and was also Cuixart's prison companion, has assured that they will be "always grateful" for "all the shared struggles, [Cuixart's] indisputable commitment to the people and to the country and [his] indispensable role in the path towards the independence of Catalonia".

Carles Puigdemont, president of Junts and president of the Generalitat during the referendum, has also thanked Cuixart's work: "Forever thank you. For all that we have shared, fought and achieved. And for what we will share, fight and achieve," he wrote on Twitter.

Also from Junts, Presidency minister during the referendum, Jordi Turull, who was also in prison with Cuixart, wanted to wish "all the recognition and more" to his "companion and friend from the trenches and prison" and said he hopes to "continue to meet him in many shared struggles", especially the struggle for independence. Josep Rull, who was also imprisoned during the same period, has said that he has "a deep admiration" for Cuixart because "what is seen in public – enthusiasm, inexhaustible energy, sensitivity, coherence, firmness in convictions, vision, eagerness to make a contribution, patriotism, leadership and an unbridled humanity – is what he is in private"

The CUP has also wanted to thank Cuixart for his work, and its official Twitter profile has thanked him for "the dedication and incorruptible commitment". CUP spokeswoman in Parliament, Eulàlia Reguant, has praised his "dedication" and has urged Òmnium to continue working for self-determination, amnesty and the defense of the language. For its part, En Comú also wanted to highlight the work of the two leaders. "Thank you very much, Jordi Cuixart and Marcel Mauri, for the dedication, for the commitment and for all the work done for the country. All the luck in the world in this new stage that begins," En Comú president in Parliament, Jéssica Albiach, wrote.