Fidel Masreal/Júlia Regué 21 May 2021
Pere Aragonès, already invested as ‘president’, receives the martial salute of the Mossos upon leaving the Parliament. / FERRAN NADEU
Pere Aragonès has been invested in Parliament 132 President of Catalan Government (the Generalitat), thanks to the support of his party, ERC, and of the 32 MPs of Junts per Catalunya and 9 of the CUP, 74 in total, against the rejection of the rest of the forces , with 61 votes against. In his first words after achieving the investiture, Aragonès has promised to “exercise the office of President with all personal humility but with all collective ambition, with outstretched hand and democratic ambition, a spirit of service, republican values, always at the service of the citizens of Catalonia: “Visca Catalunya lliure”. Aragonès has stated that he will govern “for everyone and always putting service to the citizens of Catalonia ahead”.
Pere Aragonès, the pragmatic millennial ‘president’
Aragonès has cited in this speech the leader of ERC and former vice president of the Government, Oriol Junqueras, and the first councilor of ERC in Pineda de Mar after the Franco regime, Pere Horta, who died three years ago. And he has quoted some verses from the poem XXIV of the book La pell de Brau, by Salvador Espriu. The standing ERC and JxCAt deputies applauded the inauguration of the Republican leader, after which the Catalan anthem, Els Segadors, was sung.
As the Vox deputies left the hemicycle, Aragonès received congratulations and greeted Josep Maria Jové, from his group, as well as Dolors Sabater, from the CUP, Salvador Illa, from the PSC and Jéssica Albiach, among others.
Aragonès has finally managed to be invested -after two failed sessions last March- thanks to an independentist agreement that he has also extended to the ‘Comúns’ and the PSC, to whom he has extended his hand in the course of the debate of two days in the Catalan Chamber: “I believe in this broad route, there is this vast majority, which is diverse and plural because the country is diverse and plural,” he proclaimed in one of his replies in the debate this Friday. “Alliances that we want to overcome the current situation, the broader they are, the stronger they will be, the more insurmountable they will be, the national agreement for self-determination and amnesty is a fundamental piece to advance in this regard “, has proclaimed the Republican candidate, who has assured that in the new “Republican Generalitat” he will be a president “for all Catalans”.
ERC gives historical significance to the session
In his final speech, the Republican leader insisted on “opening a new stage with this pro-independence and progressive majority, we can open a new stage focusing on the objective of rights and freedoms, economic and social reconstruction and with the utmost ambition to make possible culminate the independence of Catalonia” and he had words of remembrance to the origins of ERC and to the institution of the Generalitat in the republic and in exile. For this reason he has cited Macià, Companys, Irla and Terradellas, as well as those who “defended the polls on October 1”. He has also cited Junqueras, Marta Rovira, Carme Forcadel, among others, and all the exiles and “retaliated.”
On behalf of these, the last intervention was made by Josep Maria Jové, Republican deputy, prosecuted for embezzlement, prevarication and disobedience. Jové has merged into a hug with Aragonès with the deputies of ERC clapping, standing, and those of Junts also clapping but sitting in their seats. The anecdote of the session has been when a deputy of the PSC, by mistake, has affirmed “yes” at the time of casting the vote, which has been made by calling and out loud. She quickly changed her yes to no, to the laughter from the hemicycle.
The satisfaction of Junqueras
The session was attended by the leader of ERC, Oriol Junqueras – received on the steps of the Chamber with a long applause from the deputies of his party – taking advantage of a prison permit, to underline the “historical” nature of today’s day for the Republicans, because to regain an ERC presidency you have to go back to the stage of the Republic. Junqueras, in statements to various media, has expressed his full satisfaction with the inauguration of Aragonès and has avoided edges with respect to the ‘former president’ Carles Puigdemont, who has remained silent so far on the legislature agreement between Republicans and Junts. The also former ‘president’ Quim Torra has been present in the Parliament.
Aragonès has achieved a placid second session in which, after standing up to the new incendiary speech of the extreme right of Vox with a “they will not pass”, he has built bridges so much with the CUP that has warned him that they will withdraw support shortly If he does not begin to see the change in eviction policy and the action of Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra – as with the ‘Comúns’, who have offered parliamentary agreements despite criticizing the ERC-Junts agreement, which Jéssica Albiach has defined as the “pact of resignation”, for which he has voted against Aragonès, despite the fact that he has openly asked her to abstain.
The warning of the anti-capitalists
In their double intervention, Dolors Sabater and Carles Riera, from the CUP, have issued warning messages regarding the agreement with ERC, which they have described as “minimal”. Sabater has warned again: “If during the next few weeks the repression against the housing defense movement is not stopped and riot police are not withdrawn in the evictions, the CUP will not be able to sustain this parliamentary majority.” That is why they have asked that the pro-independence majority that endorsed a left-wing majority pass “from announcements and statements” to “facts of concrete action.”
In his response, Aragonès has been extremely conciliatory with the discourse and ideological axis of the CUP, stating that although they have different languages regarding ERC, they both speak of “transforming the economic system that has generated inequalities.” In this sense, he has repeatedly appealed to the objectives of “national freedom and social justice” with ambitions such as amnesty and self-determination. Despite this embrace, CUP Carles Riera has insisted on marking distances: “We are willing to collaborate to make the minimum pact possible but without giving up objectives that go further, we do not always speak the same thing.” Riera has given as an example that the CUP is about to “generate all the instability and disruption”, regarding the ‘procés’, and does not accept a pact of pardons in exchange for “stability and good behavior, commitment in the autonomous framework” . But at the same time, the CUP has opened up to assume “all responsibilities” if progress is made “in the democratic break with the State.”
Comúns left, against but willing to agree
The candidate of the ‘Comuns’, Jéssica Albiach, has accused ERC of having yielded to the Junts key policies for the new legislature, such as the economic, health, housing, climate emergency or changes in the Mossos riot equipment d’Esquadra. The deputy has made Republicans ugly for having renounced part of their objectives in social and economic policy for the benefit of Junts. But she has reached out for pacts in the Parliament: “We have not achieved the change of Govern, because this is not a change, we do want to make the change in the Parliament of Catalonia a reality”.
At the extreme have been the speeches of Vox, the PP and Ciutadans, whose spokesman, Carlos Carrizosa, has insisted on his well-known speech against the independence path: “You will pass not as a president of all Catalans but as a politician who returned to not respecting the plurality of Catalonia, and further divided the Catalans “. Carrizosa has addressed almost more to the PSC than Aragonès in his speech, before “future agreements with ERC”. The parliamentarian, along his lines, has described Junqueras as a criminal and has asked that “no tributes be paid” in the Parliament to the Republican leader. Alejandro Fernández has used sarcasm to disqualify the government agreement between ERC and JxCat and has taken the opportunity, like Vox, to praise the Civil Guard and the National Police for his performance in Ceuta. Aragonès has answered encouraging him to dedicate himself to cartoons.