The new legislature
Politics 26/03/2021

Junts's abstention frustrates Aragonès's investiture in the first round

Only CUP and ERC will back the cnadidate, and a second round will be needed

4 min
Pere Aragonès and Laura Borràs last Tuesday to the conference of the secretary general of JxCat, Jordi Sànchez.

BarcelonaThe candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat will not be invested in the first round, and this is becoming a tradition. Of the last five, only Carles Puigdemont in 2016 managed it, and because that same day the deadline to repeat elections elapsed. This time, however, there is a very notable novelty: it is not the CUP who is objecting to the candidate, but JxCat. The party headed by Carles Puigdemont decided yesterday that it would abstain in the first round and continue to negotiate with an eye on the second vote scheduled for Tuesday. They still have "days or weeks" to close a government agreement with ERC and CUP, as its secretary general, Jordi Sànchez, said on Tuesday. Ahead lies a weekend to meet and reflect on the umpteenth disagreement within the independence movement.

ERC had already assumed Aragonès would not be elected in the first round. Despite time running out, the parties didn't even meet yesterday - it was only JxCat who met to decide on their final vote - and on Wednesday they only met in the afternoon. ERC spokeswoman Marta Vilalta did not want to add fuel to the fire and simply said, before Junts announced their decision, that they would continue working to make an agreement possible. According to her, none of the points in discussion is "insurmountable" and the new president could already have been chosen today. In statements to Catalunya Ràdio, the general secretary of ERC, Marta Rovira, was also convinced that the stumbling blocks can be overcome, starting with the Council for the Republic, which the Republicans would like to "reformulate".

Yesterday afternoon ERC president, Oriol Junqueras, held an online meeting from prison with the top representatives of the employers' associations Foment and Pimec and the unions UGT and CCOO. The latter later made a statement to show "great concern" about the state of negotiations and urged the parties involved to reach an agreement "soon" for a "stable and effective" Government.

For days now, Esquerra has been lamenting the position adopted by Junts. The party recalls that it voted for Artur Mas in 2012 and 2015, Carles Puigdemont in 2016 and Jordi Turull and Quim Torra in 2018 (also Jordi Pujol in 1980 and 1984). Yesterday ERC social networks were fuming: supporters wondered what would have happened if the situation had been the opposite and ERC had not invested a Junts candidate. Now they hope that the interim situation in the Government, which has lasted six months, will not be extended.

Alliance with the cupaires

They sent Mas to the "trash bin of history", they accepted Puigdemont in extremis, they abstained from voting in Jordi Turull - who ended up in prison before the second vote - and did the same a few months later with Quim Torra. The cupaires had until now been a thorn in the side of investiture proceedings. But now this has changed. The members of the eleven organisations that make up the CUP decided to endorse by a large majority the agreement with ERC and facilitate Aragonès's investiture, as advanced by ARA. In the vote, 564 members (59.31%) supported backing Aragonès, while 367 voted for opposing his investiture (38.59%) and 20 voted blank (2.10%). Thus, the nine anti-capitalist MPs will back Aragonès's candidacy in parliament.

Despite this majority in favour of the agreement, members consider it is not enough and have asked the leadership to negotiate a better deal, as reflected in the second point of the vote. While 12.91% CUP members believe that the pre-agreement is enough, 85.59% do not see it that way.

During the press conference after the presentation of the results, the deputy Eulàlia Reguant launched some warnings. The CUP number three stressed that the pre-agreement is "a starting point that allows progress, but not a point of arrival", and stressed that "it is not a government agreement, but a minimum agreement for the legislature to be a change of cycle"

"Our role is to push the Government to generate clash scenarios," she added to explain what will be the role of the cupaires in this parliament. In this sense, Reguant pointed out that "we must go beyond" and "continue working to accumulate forces in the democratic confrontation".

The former councillor of Barcelona also warned that if the agreements are not met, they will take the decisions they deem appropriate, and thus opened the door to stop being the executive's stable partner, bearing in mind that they have also agreed a confidence vote with ERC halfway through the legislature. "We are not giving any blank cheque, but we can not lower the starting point," he explained, and warned that they will not accept changes that substantially modify the agreement. And he called on JxCat to subscribe to it to unblock the investiture: "Junts has the responsibility to join this agreement to serve the country".

Voting in a single day

The investiture debate will begin at 10 am and will last the whole day. Unlike what was usual until 2016, the session will be completed in one day, and not in two, so Aragonés will submit the vote in the afternoon. Before that he will have debated with the leaders of the other parliamentary groups, including Junts's Albert Batet.

Borràs accepts the delegation of vote of Lluís Puig

Parliamentary Speaker Laura Borràs has accepted ex minister Lluís Puig's vote by proxy. She also accepted the vote by proxy for three other MPs for medical reasons, but it was Puig's case that caused controversy. PSC and Ciudadanos asked it to be reconsidered, as they believe that Puig's situation does not conform to the assumptions provided in the rules of the Parliament so that an MP can vote by proxy: illness, paternity or maternity. The socialists referred in their letter to a report by parliament's lawyers in January 2018. On the other hand, the Socialist spokeswoman in Parliament, Alícia Romero, asked Borràs by letter to request a new opinion from the lawyers on the issue. Puig, who was Catalan Minister of Culture in the Government that held the referendum and is in exile, already requested to vote by proxy in the constituent session of the new legislature. However, it was rejected.