Artur Mas voted the 129th President of the Catalan Government
The leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU), is invested President of the Catalan Government by the Catalan Parliament. He will take office next Monday, the 27th of December. The members of his government have not been announced yet. Mas was invested by votes from CiU MPs and the abstention from the Catalan Socialist Party’s MPs.
Barcelona (ACN).- As expected, Artur Mas was invested as the next President of the Catalan Government. He will become the 129th President on Monday, the 27th of December, when he will take office. Artur Mas was invested in the second investiture voting, with the help of the main opposition party, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). Mas lacked 6 votes to get the absolute majority. The 62 MPs from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU), voted for their leader, Artur Mas. However, the other 73 MPs within the Catalan Parliament could have blocked Mas\u2019 election, as they did in the first voting last Tuesday. Yesterday, CiU and the PSC reached an agreement to facilitate Mas\u2019 investiture by abstaining. They agreed on 5 main themes, including the fight against the economic crisis, keeping the main agreements of the past term such as education and research, guaranteeing the quality of social and welfare services, including the opposition in the bilateral relations between Catalonia and Spain, and approving a Catalan electoral law.
Artur Mas will succeed the Socialist José Montilla as the President of the Catalan Government. This morning, he was invested by the Catalan Parliament in the second voting, when only a simple majority was needed. Mas received 62 votes from his group MPs and 28 abstention votes from the PSC, the main opposition party. The other 45 MPs from the other 5 parties in the Parliament voted against him.
In the last days, there were some speculations that 3 parties could facilitate Mas\u2019 investiture, as CiU votes were not enough to make him President of the Catalan Government. The PSC, which finally abstained, was one of them. Last Monday, during the investiture debate, they said they might vote \u201Cno\u201D. The other two parties were the Catalan People\u2019s Party (PPC), the Catalan branch of the Conservative and Spanish Nationalist People\u2019s Party (PP), and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC). After loosing the first investiture voting on Tuesday, CiU was negotiating with other groups to support or at least to abstain to guarantee Mas\u2019 investiture. Without a \u201Cyes\u201D or at least an abstention from at least 6 MPs, Mas would not have been elected president. CiU was negotiating with the PSC, the PPC and the ERC, the only parties that could abstain, as the 3 others already said \u201Cno\u201D or did not have enough MPs. The negotiations already started before the first voting, but they were particularly intense on Tuesday afternoon and yesterday. Finally, the CiU and the main opposition party, the PSC, agreed.
The CiU and the PSC signed a two-page written \u201Cagreement to facilitate Artur Mas\u2019 investiture\u201D. The agreement was a list of commitments, some more general than others, on 5 main areas:
- the fight against the economic crisis, committed to looking for consensus on the main measures;
- guaranteeing the quality of social, welfare and family policies and services, such as Education and Health;
- institutional relations, including the opposition in the negotiations between Catalonia and the Spanish Government regarding competence devolution or specific agreements;
- respecting the main agreements reached during the last term, regarding, for instance, research, Barcelona\u2019s Metropolitan Area\u2019s authority or funding of local powers;
- fostering transparency and increasing democratic quality by fighting against corruption and approving a Catalan electoral law, which is an eternally pending project than never finds consensus.
Other groups, such as the PPC or the marginal Anti-Catalan Nationalism Party, Ciudadanos, stated that this agreement represented a government agreement between the CiU and the PSC, the two main parties in the Parliament. A government agreement between the CiU and the PSC has been a recurrent speculation in the last 4 years in the Catalan political sphere; it would represent a sort of \u201Cbig coalition\u201D, as the Christian Democrats and the Socialists did in Germany during Angela Merkel\u2019s first government. However, as Mas and the Socialists have been insisting in the past hours, the reached agreement is only to facilitate Mas\u2019 investiture and does not represent, in any case, a government agreement.
After the voting, Mas gave a short speech thanking his group and his entire party for their support. He also thanked the PSC and the rest of parties in the Catalan Parliament. The most significant moment was when he thanked the job done by his 3 living predecessors: Jordi Pujol, from CiU and President between 1980 and 2003; Pasqual Maragall, from the PSC and President between 2003 and 2006; and José Montilla, from the PSC and President from 2006 until next Monday, the 27th of December.