C. S. BAQUERO / A. PIÑOL / C. SEGURA| Barcelona 8 May 2021
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) wants to govern Catalonia alone. After more than 80 days of unsuccessful negotiations with Junts per Catalunya to reissue its power alliance, the ERC candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, has announced this Saturday that he will request to be invested with the support of the formation led by Carles Puigdemont but without integrating them into the Executive, at least initially.
ERC wants to pick up the glove thrown by the Secretary General of the Junts, Jordi Sànchez, who affirmed on Friday, and has ratified this Saturday, that his formation would support a government of Republicans alone in the case of not reaching an agreement of coalition. Sànchez has assured that they could only allow Aragonès to be invested alone if ERC ties up the support of the CUP, the anti-capitalist party, and the alternative left of En Comú Podem. The Boards will also submit the proposal that they will make to ERC for the vote of their bases.
Negotiations between ERC and Junts are broken and if there is no new government before May 26, there would automatically be an electoral repetition that no one says they want. Aragonès has regretted that the talks to reissue the independence coalition have not only not advanced, but have “regressed” to where they were in February, after the regional elections. The republicans insist that from the Junts they want to impose the union of action in Congress —ERC has 13 deputies and Junts, 4— and control the strategy in favor of the independence of Catalonia that Aragonès has to lead as president of the Generalitat.
Sànchez, who has appeared this Saturday after an extraordinary congress of Junts, denies that his formation wants to “protect” the presidency of Aragonès, and has insisted on the need to stand up to the State. “It is not true that Junts has proposed any tutelage to the President of the Generalitat. We have made it very clear from the first moment and in writing that the Government could not be protected and that it has to lead everything ”.
ERC and Junts accuse each other of the disagreement. “There are only 18 days left for the automatic repetition of elections and the distance is still too great,” said Aragonès in an appearance at the party’s headquarters in Barcelona. “We will continue talking [with the Junts], but the Government has to start up in full function because the country urgently needs it,” said the acting president. Sànchez has responded: “We are convinced that this agreement is possible. There are no excuses ”.
Sànchez, however, has left the door open for ERC to govern alone, although putting on the table a poisoned formula with little chance of getting ahead. This formula involves investing Aragonès in the second round: Junts would give four affirmative votes to Aragonès if he manages to close an agreement with the CUP and the Comúns. Republicans, Comúns and anti-capitalists add 50 seats. The four votes of Junts would allow to exceed the 53 votes against that would be added by the Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (PSC), the extreme right of Vox, Ciudadanos and the Popular Party. The ERC presidential candidate would be invested in the second vote, with the rest of the Junts bench limiting themselves to abstain.
In Comú Podem has already cooled that possibility. Its proposal has not changed: they are seeking a government with Esquerra and with the external support of the Socialists. The Comúns are willing to talk about everything but have serious doubts that Junts will agree to support an executive with progressive forces. Before knowing the proposal of the four votes of Sànchez, Jéssica Albiach, leader of the Comúns, has reproached Aragonès for not turning the page and forgetting to govern with Junts. “We do not understand why he insists on the same, since he wants to have Junts either inside or outside the Executive,” Albiach recalled. The CUP so far has not shown any intention of taking part in the Executive. ERC and CUP signed in March a programmatic agreement in which the anti-capitalists pledged to support the investiture of Aragonès. The Comúns, for their part, do not reject the content of the pre-agreement between ERC and the CUP.
But ERC does not want to know anything about pacts with the PSC. During the campaign, he even signed a document with the rest of the pro-independence forces in which he promised not to sign any power agreement with the socialists. The president of the PSC parliamentary group, Salvador Illa, who was the most voted candidate in the autonomous elections in February, has affirmed that the pro-independence majority has failed and has asked Aragonès to resign to run for the presidency of the Generalitat.
A negotiation amid mistrust
The announcement of Aragonès is a new turn of the helm in a negotiation with multiple obstacles and poisoned by the distrust between both parties regarding the course that the secessionist plan of the new Government should follow, but also because of the negotiating margin that may exist with the central Government . While ERC continues to bet on the dialogue table agreed with the Executive of Pedro Sánchez, the differences with Junts are great because they do not see a path to this bet, and are only willing to try the dialogue for a limited time and without giving up the unilateral way.
Jordi Sànchez made public on Friday an optimistic summary of the negotiations with ERC, a balance that for some members of the Junts leadership was too favorable to ERC. The negotiation to revalidate the coalition has been divided into five folders. Two are already closed: the coalition coordination mechanisms (the ways to deal with possible conflicts between partners) and parliamentary sovereignty (guaranteeing the majority in the Parliamentary Table, for example). The other three, according to Sànchez, were on track: the programmatic agreement, the structure of the Government and the independence strategic plan. “We have 90% of this strategic plan closed. The drafting of the coordination in [the Congress of Deputies] in Madrid is missing, ”said Sànchez.
In Junts there are voices that disagree with the line set by Sànchez to facilitate the investiture of Aragonès in a government of ERC alone. In the event of not being in the Generalitat, the party heir to Convergència would not only lose the option of influencing as a member of the Executive, it would also lose the opportunity to appoint nearly 250 senior positions in the Catalan Administration. ERC ask Junts for responsibility and recall that their formation already gave unconditional support in 2012 to the CiU Government chaired by Artur Mas, and that Laura Borràs is president of the Catalan Parliament thanks to the Republican votes.