The investiture debate

Pere Aragonès, new president of the Generalitat

The Esquerra candidate passes the investiture with 74 votes in favour and will be the 132nd head of the executive

3 min
L'aspirant to president, Pere Aragonès, talking with the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs

BarcelonaPere Aragonès is already the 132nd president of the Generalitat. 80 years later, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya returns to have the presidency of the first institution of the country after the plenary of the Parliament has invested Aragonès with 74 votes in favour -those of ERC, Junts and CUP- and 61 against. The Republican candidate will still have to wear the label of president-elect until Monday's inauguration to solemnise his new position, but in the corridors of the Catalan chamber - with the leader of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, as a direct witness thanks to a prison leave - one could breathe the atmosphere of change. Behind is a tortuous negotiation with Junts per Catalunya and a handful of wounds. Ahead, a new mandate.

The two sessions of the investiture debate have outlined the main lines of what Aragonès wants the legislature to be - with the end of the pandemic and the resolution of the conflict between Catalonia and the State as the main challenges of the mandate -, but they have also highlighted the difficulties that the new executive will face, which starts from a situation of weakness due to the public disagreements between the two parties that will form the government. The debates of the ERC presidential candidate with JxCat and the CUP have shown that finding the alchemy to keep the legislature alive will be hard work. Both in the social aspect - where the agreement of the Republicans with those of Carles Puigdemont dodges some of the commitments of ERC with the anti-capitalists - and in the national section and the strategy to follow with the Catalan independence bid.

Oriol Junqueras arrives at the Parliament for the session of investiture of Pere Aragonès

If yesterday the difficulty of the strategic balance of the Pere Aragonès-Jordi Sànchez agreement between dialogue and confrontation was evidenced, this Friday the warning has come from the hand of the CUP. While the head of the list, Dolors Sabater, has focused on the most social claim, the spokesman, Carles Riera, has printed in his speech several warnings about the durability of CUP's support this term: "Our agreement speaks of a democratic onslaught to make self-determination possible in this legislature and agreements are honoured".

Bearing in mind that Aragonès cited the Scottish reference as a pro-independence route, Riera is convinced that the dialogue table will not work and that, at best, it will only be a "measure of grace" in exchange for "stability" of the "autonomic framework" and the State.

"We have to have our feet on the ground", Aragonès replied, however, on the independence strategy, "we have to be able to produce different results" to those achieved so far, he added. For the vice president of the acting government, the way forward is to gather the "lessons learned" in recent years and build "strengths" where "weaknesses" have been detected.

The spokesman of the CUP, Carles Riera, in his speech during the investiture

Now, the leader of Esquerra is aware that the three pro-independence parties start from a different diagnosis on the "learnings" that the movement has to assume as a result of October 2017 and the strategy that has to be carried out from now on. That is why both yesterday and today he has emphasised expanding majorities so as not to remain only in the hands of the pro-independence MPs. The aspiring president has once again urged the comuns without success - he did so yesterday - to abstain in his investiture to leave the door open to future agreements. "I'm not asking for blind trust. I do not dare to ask them to vote for me, but I do ask them to abstain as a basis for reaching agreements", said Aragonès, stressing the "progressive" character of his government.

To appeal to Albiach - and to some extent to the PSC on issues that have nothing to do with the independence bid - he recalled that the Republicans supported the executive of the PSOE and Podemos after the November 2019 elections to avoid a repeat election that would favor the right "and the extreme right". A support that the Republicans provided, he has remarked, just two months after the Supreme Court had sentenced the president of the party, Oriol Junqueras, to 13 years in prison for the 1 October referendum.

The leader of Vox in the Parliament, Ignacio Garriga, in an intervention in the plenary session

Another of the keys of the legislature that has begun to outline in these two days of debate will be the belligerence of Vox and Ciudadanos against the new Govern. The management of the far right - which this Friday has again exhibited its most xenophobic speech from the hemicycle of the Parliament - is a challenge, not only to deal with its message but also to deal with its willingness to muddy the political debate by means of a lawsuit in the courts. A route, that of judicialisation, which the orange party has also shown signs of wanting to play.