Jordi Mercader, 31 March 2022
Catalonia today has three presidents, at least it seems that way in the case of the pro-independence Catalans: Pere Aragonès, elected by the Parliament and with a current mandate; Quim Torra, disqualified by the Supreme Court but self-proclaimed guardian of the essences, and Carles Puigdemont, dismissed by 155 but acclaimed as the legitimate president of Catalonia.
Although legally only Pere Aragonès meets the requirements to present himself as president of the Generalitat, his blatant weakness gives life to former protesting presidents who have their own followers and, in the case of Puigdemont, even a private entity that publishes a fake newspaper official. Torra does not have any sovereignist RACC (Catalan entity) behind him like the Consell per la República but his predicament as an oracle among the disenchanted is increasing, once his sterile presidential period has been forgotten.
The three maintain a few coincidences. They are pro-independence, they confuse a part of Catalonia with the whole of Catalonia and they share disdain for the autonomous management of historical institutions. From then on, the former presidents with pretense of moral leaders of the cause have become the main adversaries of poor Pere Aragonès, each one in his particular style. Puigdemont, from his Belgian limbo, makes President Aragonès pay all his pending accounts with Oriol Junqueras. Torra bills Aragonès for the abandonment with which ERC gave him when the Supreme Court disqualified him. Neither did Junts erect barricades to prevent Torra from having to leave the Generalitat office, but some of his colleagues, at least, claimed a testimonial disobedience and something is something; in any case, he has never believed in political parties and much less now, according to his recent statements.
Torra and Puigdemont agree in accusing Aragonès and ERC of submission to the State and of stopping working for independence; in short, not to embrace the epic like the two of them did with results as well known as unsuccessful. ERC and Aragonès moderately protest against the professional intrusiveness of the two predecessors whom they supported at the time, without raising their voices too much in defense of the institution, lest they remain in the minority and have to embrace the PSC. The Socialists are on the prowl, knowing they are essential in the long term, waiting for the ERC’s patience with its allies-adversaries to finally run out.
The consequences of the ERC school language pact with PSC and Comúns not assumed by Junts could precipitate a rupture that has been hinted at a thousand times but always avoided. Any forecast is risky given that the relationship between ERC and Junts responds solely to the need to stay in power at any price. What is relevant, in any case, is that Aragonès does not show the necessary spirit to impose the legitimate and indisputable authority of the presidency of the Generalitat before his two pretentious (and unsuccessful) predecessors. In this sense, it is revealing that in many of the interviews with Junts’ ministers, the walls of its offices still display photographs of Puigdemont and Torra. Something unusual but with an unequivocal message for Aragonès.
The delegitimization to which Puigdemont and Torra subject Aragonès is unprecedented. And institutionally intolerable for the confusion they seek between the presidency of the country and the leadership of the independence movement. The criticism and accusations that Aragonès receives are not usually for his management of statutory powers but for not keeping alive the unilateral path and the disobedience that characterized the “procés” stage. It is a delegitimization as a secessionist leader who, in the understanding of the two former presidents, disqualifies him from being president of the Generalitat. The barbarity of always, the part for the whole, an error that Aragonès himself shares.