Who are Pere Aragonès's 14 ministers?
Puigneró will be vice-president of a renewed executive with more women than men
BarcelonaAfter taking office on Monday, Pere Aragonès is officially the 132nd president of the Catalan government. Now it will be the ministers turn to officially take office this Wednesday. Aragonès will lead an executive with 14 Departments, over half of which (8) will be led by women. This is also a thoroughly renovated government, with only Teresa Jordà, Jordi Puigneró and Aragonès staying on in the cabinet.
Vice president and minister for Digital Policy and Infrastructure
Jordi Puigneró (1974, Sant Cugat del Vallès) is a politician who has a long experience of institutions - he began as a young man in CiU's government team in Sant Cugat - but has also worked in the private sector as a telecommunications engineer. When he made the leap to the Generalitat in 2013, he made telecommunications his main issue and even had a specific Department created in 2018. Close to Puigdemont - despite the fact that he does not come from any specific CDC or PDECat group - he shares with the ex president an interest in the world of new technologies and wants the commitment to digitalisation - linked to territorial balance - to be one of Junts' hallmarks in this government. But not only this: as vice-president, he also becomes the party's future bet in goverment.
Minister for the Presidency
Mayor of Santpedor between 2003 and 2015, MP (2007-2011) and Catalan government delegate in Central Catalonia until she was dismissed when home rule was suspended, it seemed Laura Vilagrà Pons's (Santpedor, 1976) time at the political frontline was over. In fact, she had even moved to the private sector for some time. But, to many people's surprise, Pere Aragonès brought this political scientist back to be number two on the ERC lists in the Parliament on 14 February. When everyone expected a well-known independent profile, she was chosen on the basis of her long management experience despite being unknown to the general public.
Minister of Economy
Graduate in information sciences and in Business Management, Jaume Giró (Badalona, 1964) was general director of the Fundació La Caixa between 2014 and 2019, when he left the position due to disagreements with the president, Isidre Fainé. Before that, he worked as a journalist at Europa Press, and in 1990 he joined the communication team at Catalana de Gas (nowadays, Naturgy), after which he held different positions in La Caixa companies. He acquired much prominence during Joan Laporta's most recent campaign to become Barça president and he was expected to become the club's economic vice president, but after the elections he decided to step aside. Well connected with ERC and JxCat, one of the objectives for which he has been signed is to promote the conversion of the Institut Català de Finances into an entity with a public bank.
Minister of Home Affairs
The new Minister of Home Affairs, Joan Ignasi Elena (Barcelona, 1968) is part of a set of ex Catalan Socialists' Party (PSC) members who ended up close to ERC after Oriol Junqueras launched a campaign to seduce dissatisfied cadres. But Elena is not just any member. In 2011 this lawyer and former mayor of Vilanova i la Geltrú ran against Pere Navarro for the leadership of the PSC. He then founded internal group Avancem, which would end up breaking away because he could not convince the socialist party to endorse the independence consultation. In 2016 he returned to the headlines because he presided over the national pact for the referendum, which called for an agreed vote. In the last two years he has acted as legal spokesman for ERC political prisoners.
Minister of Health
Josep Maria Argimon (Barcelona, 1958) is a graduate in Medicine, epidemiologist and specialist in preventive medicine and public health. He is the author of books and articles on clinical epidemiology, health planning and public health. Argimon took over as Secretary of Public Health in July 2020, two months after Joan Guix left the post due to health reasons in the middle of the pandemic. Since then, Argimon has combined the position with that of managing director of the Catalan Institute of Health (ICS), a responsibility he assumed in June 2018. As director of the ICS he had to face one of the most important strikes in Primary Care, which demanded labour improvements and criticised his management. Previously, since February 2016, he had also been deputy director of CatSalut and, before that, director of the Agency for Health Quality and Evaluation of Catalonia (AQuAS). His entry into the secretariat of Public Health was positively received by many health workers, thanks to hi medical and specialist profile. JxCat put his name forward as new Minister of Health during the election campaign.
Minister of Business and Work
He put aside his aspirations to lead the party to join Pere Aragonès as a politically relevant piece this term. Roger Torrent (Sarrià de Ter, 1979) has left the parliamentary Speakership, where he became the focus of much criticism from JxCat, and begins his time in Government after having put a lawsuit from the Prosecutor's Office behind him. It will not be his first experience in public management: after eight years as a councillor, he was mayor of Sarrià de Ter between 2007 and 2018. A political scientist by training, father of two daughters, reader of Stefan Zweig and very interested in fashion, Torrent will now have the opportunity to prove that his political career has not reached its zenith. If he follows the advice of his team, he will do so without Twitter on his mobile and careful not to have his phone hacked again.
Minister for Climate Action, Agriculture and Food
Teresa Jordà (Ripoll, 1972) entered Government for the first time under Quim Torra and is one of the few who will stay on in the cabinet. She will stay at the head of the same Department, Agriculture, albeit now expanded to include Climate Action. It is, for the moment, the last stop of a political career lasting over two decades. With a degree in modern and contemporary history from the UAB, she joined the Ripoll Town Council as a councillor at the age of 27, and in the following elections (2003) she became the first female mayor of the municipality, a position she retained in 2007. She also has a past in Spanish politics: in 2011 she entered Spanish parliament - leading the Girona list - a position she combined with that of opposition councillor in Ripoll until 2017. In 2018 she left her seat in the Spanish Parliament to lead the Department of Agriculture.
Minister for Foreign Action
Victòria Alsina is 37 years old and was born in Barcelona and will lead the Department of Foreign Action and Transparency. With a long academic career, she has a PhD in political science from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and later studied management and public innovation at ESADE. She is currently a professor and academic director of the Center for Urban Science & Progress at New York University, as well as a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her area of specialisation and research is innovation in the public sector, which fits with the competencies in transparency she will be taking on. Alsina had recently already been part of the Generalitat as delegate to the United States and Canada, a post she obtained in the public competition Ernest Maragall organised in 2018. Until now, she was one of the coordinators of the group Catalunya 2022, promoted by Josep Rius - who until last Thursday was expected to lead the Department - which made a report on the conjunctural and structural reforms that they consider that the country needs to get out of the crisis.
Minister for Research and Universities
Hitherto JxCat parliamentary spokesperson Gemma Geis (1979, Girona) is a doctor in law and professor at the University of Girona, where she was vice-rector, and in recent times has been a climbing inside the party. She won the primaries inside the party to head the list in Girona -against the mayoress Marta Madrenas- and in the elections on February 14 she came first keeping the party's seven deputies against ERC's four. Now she will lead the Department of Universities and Research, becoming part of the Government of the Generalitat for the first time.
Minister of Culture
Natàlia Garriga (Sant Cugat, 1969), ERC's secretary of cultural policy, education and sports, has been chosen to command the Department of Culture, an area in which she has been involved for many years. She was currently director of Services of the Department of Vice-Presidency and Economy and Finance and was part of Pere Aragonès's team. She is not a newcomer to the Generalitat. She started working in 1989, in the Department of Economy, specifically in the Catalan Institute of Agricultural Credit. She has also worked in the Presidency and Culture Departments. In fact, she was manager, between 2007 and 2016, of the Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises. Graduated in law from the University of Barcelona, she has been an ERC militant since 2001. She is involved in the court case against the preparations of the 2017 Independence Referendum.
Minister of Education
The until now general director of State Centres, Josep González Cambray (Lleida, 1972), is the new Minister of Education. He sees his task of the past year and a half rewarded, as he was behind the drive to keep students attending classes physically in compulsory education despite the pandemic. Throughout his career, however, he has held several positions in the Generalitat. Under José Montilla he was first assistant to the secretary of Immigration and then director of the Territorial Services in Barcelona of the Department of Social Action and Citizenship. He has also been coordinator of the area of Culture, Education and Sports in the Diputació de Barcelona. A technical engineer with a degree in Marketing, he was arrested in October 2020 as part of Operation Volhov led by the Guardia Civil for alleged diversion of public funds to finance the Independence bid.
Minister for Feminisms and Equality
Rarely will there be greater consensus to validate the appointment of a person at the head of a department as in the case of Tània Verge (Reus, 1978). After directing the UPF's Equality Unit since 2014, Verge obtained only four months ago a position as professor of Political and Social Sciences at this university. She did so after defending before the tribunal a transformation programme based on feminist political science. With a degree in Political Science and Administration from the UPF and a PhD in Political Science from the Complutense University of Madrid, she will now leave her teaching to lead the new Department for Feminisms and Equality. Verge, who will sit in the cabinet as an independent as she does not belong to ERC, was one of the members of the 2017 Referendum electoral syndicate and like the other members of this body was tried and acquitted of the crimes of disobedience and usurpation of functions of which she was accused by the Prosecutor's Office.
Minister of Justice
Lourdes Ciuró, born in 1971 in Reus, will be Minister of Justice, a position she beat Miquel Sàmper to at the last minute. Lawyer by profession, she was Junts candidate to the mayoralty of Sabadell in the previous municipal elections and was currently sitting as a councillor in this city. Before then, she was a member of the Spanish Parliament, first for CiU and then for the Partit Demòcrata, between 2011 and 2019. When Partit Demòcrata split, she placed herself unequivocally on Puigdemont's and JxCat prisoners' side, and is especially close to Jordi Turull.
Minister of Social Rights
Violant Cervera (Lleida, 1969) will be the person in charge of leading the Department of Social Rights. Starting out in CDC and later moving to PDECat, she is close to ex Minister Jordi Turull and has already been a member of Parliament for two terms: with CiU between 2012 and 2015 and with Junts pel Sí until 2017. She has a degree in Spanish and a postgraduate degree in information technology, but in the parliamentary sphere she worked on youth policies and was a member of the commission of the Síndic de Greuges (Catalan Ombudsman). In Artur Mas's first term as president she was, for about a year, director general of Civic and Community Action in the Department of Welfare, the department she will now lead as Minister.