The Catalan legislature
Politics 15/09/2022

Puigdemont camp backs leaving coalition government

They demand ERC shift while Turull tries to strike a balance between former President and those in favor of continuing in the executive

3 min
JxCat meeting

BarcelonaWednesday's summit between Together for Catalonia (JxCat) and Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) did not go well. The two parties' positions are antagonistic and each brings up its list of reproaches alongside a threat of leaving the coalition government. But this Thursday morning, in a meeting of the JxCat leadership, secretary general Jordi Turull and president Laura Borràs asked for "trust" from other members and discretion to negotiate with the Republicans. They do not want public statements by supporters or opponents to avoid an image of internal turmoil and also to shift the focus onto ERC. They aim to do this by asking the Republicans to clarify whether they will fulfil the investiture agreement. But the Republicans do not intend to change their course and believe that the only thing JxCat is attempting is to transfer its own internal problems to the government. The situation right now is complex and the clash over the Catalonia Day demonstrations between the ANC and the president Pere Aragonès, has given wings to those within JxCat who want to break up the coalition: a new change in the correlation of forces within the party is emerging.

And it is at this point that former Catalan president and JxCat founder Carles Puigdemont's opinion gains importance. According to several sources consulted by ARA, the former president's camp backs leaving the Government if the Republicans do not accept the conditions JxCat has put on the table: bringing back a unitary strategic leadership of the Independence bid, coordinating parliamentary groups in Madrid or reformulating the negotiating table to discuss "amnesty and self-determination". This is the line JxCat parliamentary group leader Albert Batet and party spokesman Josep Rius defend in private. Rius and Batet are also the members of the executive who are closest to exiles. Generalitat vice president Jordi Puigneró is of the same mind.

Turull, who before the summer clearly defended staying in Government, is now trying to strike a balance between Waterloo and Laura Borràs's camp. The former Speaker already defended breaking up the coalition after ERC did not support her when she was suspended . As La Vanguardia reported this Wednesday and ARA has confirmed, JxCat secretary general, after talking with Puigdemont during the summer, has taken a harder line. "Exiting the government is a real option," he said in his latest interview on Catalunya Ràdio, in addition to reiterating in recent days that JxCat cannot "hold the ladder" for ERC if they do not agree on a shard path.

Because, despite the fact that Puigdemont left all party posts and does not intervene directly in internal debates, he still has a lot of influence in the organisation, and right now he backs full head on confrontation with ERC, especially after Catalonia Day. On September 11 Puigdemont posted this tweet: "They have stigmatised the demonstration, they have boycotted the participation and they want to exclude it from the political agenda. They have failed. Today the pro-independence mainstream has shown inclusion, civility and above all strength"

The Puigdemont camp thesis is that if ERC does not shift, JxCat should leave the coalition government and act as opposition despite being the third largest party in the chamber, highlighting its ideological differences with ERC. This would mean ERC would be left alone in a minority government with only 33 of Parliament's 150 seats, and would in all likelihood have to either seek the Socialists and En Comú's support or call new elections.

The scenario of staying in opposition, in fact, was already put forward by Puigdemont after the 2021 elections, since he was not sure about entering the coalition with ERC. At that time, then secretary general Jordi Sànchez defended entering the coalition and closed the agreement with ERC. Put to the vote, 83% of JxCat party members backed the deal with 83%, yet nobody – not even Puigdemont – campaigned against it. Now it is unknown what the rank and file will say when they are consulted, foreseeably in November.

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