Pro-independence Esquerra rule out backing Socialist Illa as Catalan president 'at the moment'

Left-wing party lost 13 MPs in May ballot and could decide if progressive government or new election

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and Esquerra Republicana general secretary Marta Rovira
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and Esquerra Republicana general secretary Marta Rovira / Catalan News
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May 31, 2024 02:04 PM

May 31, 2024 02:14 PM

Pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party has said that they are not planning to back a presidential bid by Socialist Salvador Illa as the Catalan leader, ERC secretary general Marta Rovira said during an interview with radio station RAC1 on Friday.

"At the moment, where we stand," they are not planning to back Salvador Illa, the winner of the election, as the next Catalan president.

"We are not scared" to see new elections, Rovira said during the interview, and regretted that they are being pressured by all sides.

"We have assumed the responsibility of a territory once again without asking for anything else in return," the secretary general said. Rovira is currently living in Geneva, Switzerland, and will step down from her role in November after an extraordinary party summit that will decide the future of the political force after losing support in recent elections.

She said parties need to include an independence referendum, implement the amnesty law, and set a singular finance system to negotiate with Esquerra. One of her other claims is to "recover talks" between pro-independence parties after the "victory" of the amnesty seen on Thursday in the Spanish Congress, where 177 MPs voted in favor of an amnesty law that will benefit dozens of pro-independence figures, including former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont from Junts+, and former vice president Oriol Junqueras, president of Esquerra Republicana.

"We are very strong when we share our goals, and we are coordinated," she said.

Esquerra: key to Catalonia's future

Despite losing 13 seats in the Catalan election on May 12 and having their candidate Pere Aragonès step down as MP from June 10, Esquerra Republicana has the key to Catalonia's future.

Aragonès, the sitting Catalan president, will leave frontline politics once a new government is elected. However, Esquerra could be decisive to see if the Socialists take the executive, or Catalans go, once again, to the polls in October.

The Socialists need 68 MPs to back their candidate, Salvador Illa, to see him named president. However, they only have 42 representatives in the chamber, meaning they need the support of other political groups.

One of the most viable options is for a left-wing or progressive deal, seeing Esquerra and left-wing Sumar backing a Socialist minority government or forming a coalition. They all add up to 68 MPs, the minimum required for an absolute majority in the chamber.

The first step will be on June 10, when the first parliamentary session will take place, with all MPs swearing in after the election. On that day, MPs will also debate on a parliament bureau.

The chamber will then have 15 days to set a first date for any of the presidential candidates to submit their bid and for the debate to start no later than June 25.

If no candidate is elected with an absolute majority after the first two-day debate, there will be a second chance 48 hours later, when the candidate needs a simple majority, more 'yes' than 'no.'

If the deadlock continues, MPs will have two months to vote again before a snap election is automatically called again. If the first presidential debate takes place on June 25, this would happen on August 25.

Once the snap election is called, Catalans will return to the polls around October.