Cristian Reino, Barcelona, 7 October 2022
President Aragonès, last night in his brief appearance after the divorce consummated by his partners. / E.P. | VIDEO: ATLAS
The president, now with 33 of the 135 seats in Parliament, will try to exhaust the legislature with a single-color government that includes independents.
Earthquake in Catalan politics. Just the day the Government of ERC and Junts, governed by Pere Aragonès, celebrated 500 days since its inauguration, it was blown up. With a 79% turnout, the post-convergence militancy decided this Friday that the party of Carles Puigdemont and Laura Borràs leave the Catalan Executive. The result was clear and convincing: 55% of Junts’ bases voted in favor of the rupture compared to 42% who opted for maintaining the coalition with Esquerra.
The departure from the Government was immediate. After the consultation, Junts convened its leadership and the Executive’s advisers communicated their resignation to the President of the Generalitat. Borràs took the reins of the party and announced that Junts would go to the “firm and responsible” opposition. “Junts wins and Aragonès loses”, concluded the post-convergent president. The nationalist formation insinuated that the president should call elections or submit to a vote of confidence. “The Government of Aragonès has failed, it has lost democratic legitimacy,” Borràs stressed.
The departure of Junts forces Aragonès to govern alone. It will be a monocolor Executive with independents. Elections are ruled out. After nine o’clock at night, Aragonès appeared from the Gothic gallery of the Palau de la Generalitat. His message was clear: his intention is to exhaust the legislature. “It would be irresponsible to leave the country without a government,” he said, after seeing how the majority of it is now limited to 33 seats out of the 135 in Parliament. “Citizens are not served by abandoning responsibilities,” he censured Junts.
The president announced that a new stage is opening in Catalonia and that in the next few days the Governing Council will be renewed with new members. “The appointment will be made quickly,” he said. His goal is to “complete the rest of the legislature” and the ministers, as he pointed out, will be from the sovereign orbit. But he gave no further clues.
The ‘Puigdemont effect’ was decisive in the Junts consultation. The former president of the Generalitat continues to be the leader of the party and the highest reference. His opinion was decisive. He weighed the widespread feeling in a good part of the pro-independence movement that ERC has renounced the unilateral path, has opted for dialogue with the Government and has parked the ‘procés’. The most radical branch of Junts managed to convince their supporters that they could not continue in a government that does not set its sights on secession. The most unilateralist rhetoric won the battle. The convergent gene gave in to the CUP spirit of the Junts leaders who come from activism and have no party tradition.
The threat of a split that Laura Borràs’s environment had verbalized also had an influence, although the party came out of its deeply divided referendum. Jordi Turull, general secretary, is left in a very weak position, defeated by Borràs, who was deflated in the internal congress but is reinforcing himself now. Puigdemont has imposed his criteria: he has always been against governing with ERC if the Presidency was Republican and, as far as he has been able, he has executed the rupture.
Surprise at the Palau
With their heads, the Republicans did not want Junts to leave; with the heart, yes. In any case, they did not expect their partners to dare to break the deck. They had all the assumptions open, but in the Palau de la Generalitat the decision of Junts militancy fell as a surprise.
Esquerra is already in the scenario that he wanted for months, in which he was looking for a way to divorce Junts and be able to ratify his pragmatic bet. The situation, however, is very complicated for the president of the Generalitat, who has bet heavily on this stake of the postconvergents. He refused to give in to the partners’ demands of him and now he will have to knock on the door of the socialist PSC and the Comuns. He will try to reach the end of the legislature, although the squaring of the circle that he proposes and the variable geometry with only 33 deputies will be a continuous minefield.
The Socialists will gain centrality and can offer their support to the Government in exchange for the ERC backing Pedro Sánchez’s Budgets. The President of the Government, from Prague, defended “stability”. But the alliance between the ERC and the PSC may be fraught with complications, as they will be direct competitors in the municipal elections in May. Aragonès, in any case, reaches out to everyone.
Last night he spoke of a new stage. The consultations are loaded by the devil and the consequences of the one held this Friday by the nationalist formation are profound: it breaks the Catalan Government, dynamites the independence pact in force since 2012, and breaks for the first time the dynamics of granite blocks of the ‘procés’ . Since 2012, Catalan politics has been divided into two camps: the independentist and the non-sovereignist. Now, in theory, there will be a left turn. ERC must also break the cordon sanitaire against the PSC that the secessionist forces signed in the last electoral campaign.