No ERC ministers will attend ANC Catalonia Day demonstration
Catalan government admits "differences" between ERC and JxCat on Catalonia day but minimises them
BarcelonaThis year's Catalonia Day demonstration has become a struggle between the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), with unpredictable results. This Tuesday ERC announced none of its ministers will attend the march organised by the pro-independence organisation, following president Aragonès's footsteps. The decision also deepens the division in government on this issue: ERC's coalition partner Together for Catalonia (JxCat) has announced all its ministers will take part.
As explained by ERC government sources, the decision was finalised yesterday afternoon. This will be the first time since the beginning of the Independence Bid that ERC's main institutional representatives do not attend the Catalonia Day march. The reasons for not attending, according to these same sources, are those previously expressed by Aragonès himself and also yesterday by party president Oriol Junqueras. In short, they consider the demonstration is directed against the Catalan government, parties and against part of the independence movement.
For some time now, Esquerra has looked askance at the ANC, which they accuse of having drifted towards an anti-parties anti-institutions populism. What has made the Republicans angry, according to inside sources, is the ANC's Catalonia Day manifesto, where it is said that "it no longer expects anything from the parties" and that "only the people and organised civil society will be able to achieve independence". With all these elements on the table –and last year's memories of Junqueras and Aragonès being booed during last year's demonstration–, the decision has been that neither the president nor his ministers participate.
The main party representatives are not expected to attend either, at least judging by Junqueras' statements to SER Catalunya. Hardening his tone against "part of the current leadership of the ANC", he criticised that the demonstration has been designed above all directed "against the independentistas, or against many independentistas or against the majority of independentistas". "Against the main pro-independence party", he concluded, taking pride in Esquerra's results in the last elections.
Esquerra's bid to distance itself from the ANC is not simple and will also have to be measured by Sunday's demonstration's strength. Be that as it may, and no matter how strong their criticism, ERC will still be represented at the march. Former speaker and former president of the ANC, Carme Forcadell, said on Tuesday on RAC1 that she does not feel "excluded" from the demonstration, but that she "understands" that some people may feel that way. Forcadell still maintains a close link with her party and currently co-chairs the Women's Assembly with Dolors Bassa. Nor is it easy to break completely with the march because it would be inconsistent with the fact that one of the convening entities, the Association of Municipalities for Independence, is chaired by an ERC mayor, Jordi Gaseni.