Torra nominates new government including jailed and exiled officials
The nominees for the new executive include incarcerated officials Josep Rull and Jordi Turull as well as deposed ministers abroad Toni Comín and Lluís Puig
Today, Catalan president Quim Torra announced the members of his new government. As promised, he intends to reinstate all those ministers sacked by the Spanish government last November who want their jobs back. This includes two officials who are jailed and two who are abroad. Here is the list of the members of the new Catalan government, expected to take their oaths on Wednesday next week.
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: Jordi Turull, reinstated as presidency minister from prison
Jordi Turull (Parets del Vallès, 1966) will retake his post as presidency minister of the Catalan government. He is currently in pre-trial jail in Madrid but President Quim Torra wanted him reinstated after he was sacked by the Spanish government following Article 155. He was number three on the Puigdemont list' JxCat and spokesman of the last government. He was presidential candidate shortly, but a Spanish judge jailed him before he could face a second vote to be sworn in. He is been a Member of Parliament for 14 years, campaigning with the former Convergència and now PDeCat. However, now is closer to Puigdemont and his JxCat list.
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 eldest 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 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: Toni Comín, minister from Brussels
Toni Comín (Barcelona, 1971) has been nominated as Catalan Health Minister again. He was sacked by the Spanish government last year, immediately after the declaration of independence. Comín, together with Carles Puigdemont and other deposed ministers, went to Belgium, where he denounced they were victims of "political persecution". He is wanted by Spain for alleged crimes of rebellion and misuse of public funds for his role during the independence referendum and faces up to 30 years in jail. Last week, a Belgian court decided not to extradite him. He will be the only minister from Esquerra Republicana (ERC) retaking his post. Before joining pro-independence forces, he was a member of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). As Health minister, he passed the law of universal health assistance, which is currently suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court. The law guaranteed that everyone would be assisted in the Catalan health system, regardless of their origin or legal situation in the country.
TERRITORY AND SUSTAINABILITY: Josep Rull, back to his post from prison
Josep Rull (Terrassa, 1968) retakes his post as Territory and Sustainability from prison, almost seven months after being deposed by the Spanish government. After testifying before the Spanish National Court on November 2, Rull and other ministers were jailed, accused of rebellion and other crimes. They were released about a month after. He was a member of the Carles Puigdemont ticket list 'Junts per Catalunya' (JxCat), and became and MP after the December election. He was jailed again on March 23. He has a long experience in politics, having been an MP for more than 20 years.
CULTURE: Lluís Puig retakes his post as Culture Minister from exile
Lluís Puig (Terrassa, 1959) is retaking his post as Culture minister after being sacked by the Spanish government. He will lead the Culture department from Brussels, where he has been residing since October last year. He is currently wanted by the Spanish justice for the alleged crime of disobedience and misuse of public funds for his role in the independence referendum. This week, a Belgian judge decided not to extradite him and two other sacked ministers currently in the country. He was a member of the JxCat list on the December election, but he gave up his post to guarantee the pro-independence majority, as Spain was not allowing exiled MPs to vote by proxy. He has a long experience in cultural associations and was artistic director of the Mercat de la Música Viva festival and the Fira Mediterrània.
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 AND SPOKESPERSON: Elsa Artadi, one of Puigdemont's closest allies
Elsa Artadi (Barcelona, 1975) will be the next government spokeswoman and minister of Business. 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 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.
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.