New cabinet most egalitarian ever
Who is who in the new Catalan government, including 6 women out of 13 members
Catalan president Quim Torra's changes to his ministers nominations boosted the number of women in the cabinet from 3 to 6 out of 13 members. This means it is the most egalitarian ever, surpassing Carles Puigdemont's original cabinet, which included five women. Torra faced some criticism with his original nominations because of the low rate of women. Yet now deposed ministers Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Toni Comín and Lluís Puig will not be able to be reinstated.
VICE PRESIDENCY AND ECONOMY: Pere Aragonès, the new Oriol Junqueras
Pere Aragonès will be the new Catalan vice president and minister of the Economy, replacing jailed ERC leader Oriol Junqueras for the post, who has been held behind bars since November 3. Aragonès will therefore be the second strongest person in the cabinet, second only to Torra himself. In the previous term, he was one of Junqueras’ closest allies as Secretary for the Economy. Amongst his tasks, he will be in charge of the drafting of the budget. Now, he will assume the responsibilities of his mentor and predecessor Junqueras. Aragonès is also now one of the strongest leaders of ERC, especially since Secretary General Marta Rovira left in exile to Switzerland.
PRESIDENCY MINISTER & SPOKESPERSON: Elsa Artadi, one of Puigdemont's closest allies
Elsa Artadi (Barcelona, 1975) will be the next minister for presidency. An economist, until she acted as the spokesperson for the JxCat parliamentary group, and is one of Puigdemont's closest advisors. She was considered a possible candidate for the presidency, but she always denied that. A Harvard alumni, she worked in the Economy department before. A trusted ally to Puigdemont, she might help with coordinating the work of the Torra government with the ideas coming from the 'Council of the Republic', an organization set up by Puigdemont abroad to promote independence.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Ernest Maragall, former MEP takes Foreign Affairs
Ernest Maragall, a historic member of the Socialist party who left the group over disagreements in its role during the independence roadmap, will become the next Catalan Foreign Affairs minister. Maragall, who is the oldest member of Parliament, has a long history in politics, and was Education minister in previous socialist cabinets. In 2014, he ran in the European elections as an independent candidate for the pro-independence party ERC. He was in Brussels for two years, before joining the list of the same group for the December 2017 election. A former federalist, he now considers that independence is the only solution for Catalonia. He will have the task to lead one of the ministries most affected by Article 155. The Spanish government shut down all Catalan delegations abroad but the one in Brussels, and new president Quim Torra is committed to re-opening them.
HOME AFFAIRS: Miquel Buch, new Home Affairs minister
The new Home Affairs minister is Miquel Buch (Premià de Mar, 1975). He presided over the local organization ACM when the pro-independence process started, and he always supported it. He was mayor of his local town for 10 years. A member of the PDeCAT party, he is critical of its current leadership. He’s also close to jailed ministers Josep Rull and Jordi Turull, who at the same time align themselves with Puigdemont. In 2013, he announced he’s suffered from multiple sclerosis since the age of 21, but he still leads a normal life. As Home Affairs minister, he will have the challenge to lead the Catalan police corps, the Mossos d'Esquadra, which have been put at the center of the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain for their role during the referendum. Spain accused the Mossos of having a "passive" role during the referendum. His predecessor, Joaquim Forn, is in jail since November 3.
EDUCATION: Josep Bargalló, back to Education after 15 years
The new Education minister, Josep Bargalló (Torredembarra, 1958) is retaking his post from when he was member of Socialist Pasqual Maragall’s cabinet, back in 2003. He was only Education minister, however, for two months, as he was quickly named 'conseller en cap', a post similar to that of a vice president. A member of pro-independence ERC party, he didn't take his seat in the second ERC-PSC-ICV government, and went on to lead the Institute Ramon Llull, a cultural organization dedicated to promoting Catalan culture abroad. He will replace Clara Ponsatí, who is currently fighting extradition from Scotland after being charged with violent rebellion and misuse of funds. As Education minister, Bargalló will have the challenge to defend the Catalan school system against accusations that it indoctrinates children towards pro-independence ideologies and marginalizes the Spanish language.
HEALTH: Alba Vergés, Parliament bureau member
Alba Vergés is one of the rising politicians of Esquerra. Replacing deposed minister Toni Comín, she has been in the Catalan Parliament since 2012, heading the Health committee and also the committee to investigate alleged conspirations involving the Spanish Home Affairs former minister to accuse pro-independence politicians of corruption. Vergés was one of the three MPs to present a Catalan Parliament initiative to decriminalize euthanasia.
TERRITORY AND SUSTAINABILITY: Damià Calvet, big challenges in infraestructures ahead
Damià Calvet is replacing deposed and jailed minister Josep Rull as Territory minister. He is expert in infrastructures and will have big challenges ahead: getting a better commuter train network from Spain -a long-standing hot topic in Catalonia- or finishing the L9 metro line in Barcelona.
CULTURE: Laura Borràs, former Institute of Catalan Letters president
Laura Borràs will replace Lluís Puig, in Belgium, as Catalan Culture minister. Yet she is not new in this world either. She is a Catalan philologist with more than 20 years of experience as a professor. In the past few years, she was the director of the Institution of the Catalan letters, a public funded body promoting Catalan language and literature. In 2017, she enrolled in Carles Puigdemont's ticket, Junts per Catalunya, thus becoming MP after the December 21 election.
JUSTICE: Ester Capella, a feminist lawyer to head Justice
The new Justice Minister Ester Capella was born in northern Catalonia in 1963. A lawyer and a strong defender of women rights, her political career started in the council of Barcelona with pro-independence ERC. Since 2013, she has worked as a senator and MP in the Spanish Congress, with an extensive political experience in Madrid. One of her main challenges heading the department of Justice will be to repair the broken trust between the Catalan government and the judges and prosecutors. She replaces Carles Mundó in the post. Mundó was sacked by the Spanish government and spent more than a month in jail. He is now free on bail but faces charges of disobedience and misuse of funds.
LABOUR & SOCIAL AFFAIRS: Chakir El Homrani, a union leader
Chakir el Homrani (Barcelona, 1979) will take the post as minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Family. He will substitute Dolors Bassa, who is currently in pre-trial jail for her role in the 2017 independence referendum. As his predecessor, El Homrani is also a union leader from UGT. He became a member of parliament last March, when Bassa, the former Parliament speaker Carme Forcadell and ERC's secretary general Marta Rovira, stepped down from their seats. El Homrani, of Moroccan origin, was born in Barcelona and has said that has described himself as having "multiple" identities, "as everyone does", and has expressed his commitment to fighting against "stereotypes." As union leader, he promoted a citizen's legislative proposal to help with housing and was key part in an agreement to fight against young and for raising the minimum wage.
BUSINESS: Àngels Chacón, expert in international trade
Fairly unknown to the public, Àngels Chacón will ultimately be the new Business minister. Torra originally nominated Elsa Artadi for the post, but she will instead replace Jordi Turull in the Presidency department. Chacón was a local councilor in Igualada, a town in central Catalonia, and director general of Industry department. She is expert in international trade.
GOVERNANCE AND DIGITAL POLICY: Jordi Puigneró, new minister of Governance and Digital Policy
Jordi Puigneró (Sant Cugat del Vallès, 1974) is the new minister of Governance and Digital Policy. He was the Secretary of Telecommunications, Cybersecurity and Digital Society during the Carles Puigdemont government. His ministry will also be responsible for Religious Affairs, Housing and Administration. As head of Cyber Security, he coordinated the defense against cyber-attacks during the symbolic 2014 independence referendum.
AGRICULTURE: Teresa Jordà, from the Spanish Congress to the ministry of Agriculture
Teresa Jordà is the new Agriculture minister. She has a strong, straightforward way of talking, and has been an ERC MP in the Spanish Congress for seven years now. As candidate for ERC from Girona, in 2011 she was chosen for the post before Quim Torra, the current president, who was also considered as candidate by ERC president Oriol Junqueras. Jordà was mayor of Ripoll during two terms. The town is in rural Catalonia and has a strong agriculture industry, elements that gave Jordà a lot of experience on the field that she will now have to lead in government. She is a frequent user of social media, especially Twitter.