ERC confident of government deal after ‘complete’ proposal to Junts

With just over one month until the final deadline, little progress has been made thus far on naming a new Catalan president

ERC's Pere Aragonès speaks with Junts' Jordi Sànchez in the Catalan parliament (by Bernat Vilaró)
ERC's Pere Aragonès speaks with Junts' Jordi Sànchez in the Catalan parliament (by Bernat Vilaró) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 14, 2021 02:38 PM

With just over one month to go until the final deadline to name a new president, Catalans are still no closer to knowing whether Pere Aragonès will lead the next executive or if they will be forced to go to the polls once more. 

Following February 14’s election, which saw the Socialist party win the most votes but put Esquerra Republicana in the driving seat to form a new government with the same amount of seats, lawmakers have not been able to come to a deal on who will lead the country for the next term. 

Despite the Socialists winning more votes than any other party, the pro-independence camp combined expanded their majority in the chamber, with the 33 seats of Esquerra Republicana, the 32 of Junts per Catalunya, and the nine of CUP amounting to 74 seats in the chamber. This gives the initiative to Pere Aragonès of ERC to present his candidacy for the presidency. 

However, Aragonès has already tried and failed to be named the new head of government after fellow pro-independence party Junts per Catalunya, who won one seat fewer than Esquerra’s 33, twice abstained in the voting as the groups had not reached an agreement for government. 

ERC garnered only the support of their MPs plus the nine extra from the far-left pro-independence CUP party, following the agreement reached between both entities that would see a vote of confidence on Aragonès and a review of whether the dialogue table was a strategy worth pursuing in 2023. 

If MPs do not name a new president by May 26, there will be another snap election called.

'Complete' proposal for government

Now, the acting vice-president with functions of the president has explained that ERC has made a "complete" proposal to Junts on a government agreement. He believes that the proposal gives his current government partner enough time to fully analyze it and work on it. 

In an interview with Catalunya Ràdio, Aragonès said that this proposal should resolve the current deadlock and was convinced that there will be an agreement "soon." 

After Junts had criticized Aragonès' lack of involvement in the negotiations, the ERC head explained that he has held talks with JxCat party leader Carles Puigdemont, a conversation the presidential candidate described as “cordial and enlightening.” 

He added that the two leaders will maintain communication and emphasized that the negotiations signify "teamwork" among the pro-independence camp. Aragonès also revealed he had spoken with other senior Junts officials Laura Borràs, and Jordi Sànchez. 

After the previous term was marked by discrepancies between governing partners Esquerra and Junts, the new proposal provides a mechanism to "file disagreements."

Aragonés warned that running out of deadlines would be "irresponsible" and has said they are prepared to take on responsibilities in "any scenario", even in a government alone.

The prospect of a minority ERC government was raised earlier in April, with Junts per Catalunya signalling that they would not force the country to have to go back to the polls. The last election, held in spite of the fact the pandemic continued to wreak havoc, saw a record low turnout of just 53%