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ERC-CUP preliminary deal includes deciding whether to continue with talks with Spain in 2023

Pere Aragonès would face a vote of confidence in parliament when mandate reaches its first half

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23 March 2021 10:26 AM

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ACN | Barcelona

The preliminary deal between pro-independence left-wing forces Esquerra (ERC) and CUP to elect the former's candidate Pere Aragonès as the next president of Catalonia includes deciding whether to continue with talks with the Spanish government in 2023. 

ERC prioritizes engaging in talks with Madrid in order to persuade Spain's president Pedro Sánchez to agree to a self-determination referendum – but CUP is sceptical

Their compromise, included in a 16-page document with the deal that the anti-capitalists have sent to their members for an internal vote to be held on Wednesday and Thursday, foresees reviewing in two years whether dialogue has produced any outcome and whether this path is worth continuing. 

Also in 2023, when Aragonès' mandate reaches its first half, a vote of confidence on the government will take place in parliament, according to the same paper. 

If Aragonès were to lose it, he would automatically be ousted and a new president would have to be elected – or else Catalonia would face another snap election.

The deal also includes creating a space among all pro-independence parties and civic groups to set a strategy for the movement and prepare "the necessary conditions" for a new "democratic onslaught" towards a split with Spain, "preferably in the form of a referendum."

Deal incomplete pending Junts per Catalunya's stance

Yet, the deal is still incomplete: ERC and CUP have only 42 seats altogether, far from a majority (68), so they need Junts per Catalunya for a full pro-independence pact to ensure that Aragonès can be president. 

Sunday's deal adds pressure on that party led from exile in Belgium by former president Carles Puigdemon to join, particularly after the agreement to elect Laura Borràs as parliament speaker – yet, this is still far from clear. 

The secretary-general of the party, Jordi Sànchez, said in a press conference on Tuesday that "nothing prevents us from reaching a deal in the coming days or weeks", signaling that talks are advancing, but also that Aragonès might not get elected next Friday. Sànchez also ruled out seeking a second election and asking ERC to put forward a different presidential candidate.

  • "Nothing prevents us from reaching a deal in the coming days or weeks"

    Jordi Sànchez · Junts per Catalunya secretary-general

Despite JxCat's past criticism of the dialogue table between Catalan and Spanish governments, Sànchez said the party is "willing to give it a chance" and "follow" ERC with "loyalty" in order to "win a space to negotiate with Spain."

JxCat MPs Meritxell Budó and Miquel Sàmper, the current interim spokesperson and interior minister, respectively, stated on Monday that they had found out about the ERC-CUP agreement through the press and refrained from commenting on their party's stance. 

Budó stressed the importance of having pro-independence parties take their time before striking a deal. "How long it takes to reach an agreement is not as important as that it is a good one," the politician maintained, suggesting this could possibly not be the case by the end of the week.

The parliament will convene on Friday to elect a president – the deadline for such a vote –, and the bidder will have to secure the backing of at least 68 MPs. If they fail to do so, another vote will be held on Sunday in which they will only have to obtain more yeas than nays. In the event that both attempts to elect the next head of the Catalan government are unsuccessful, parties will have two months from March 26 to agree on a candidate before an automatic snap election is called.

Some Junts members push for agreement

Some members of JxCat are pushing their party management to invest Pere Aragonès this week after the preliminary agreement between the Republicans and CUP.

Several sources from Junts, consulted by ACN on Tuesday morning, say an agreement with ERC is "imminent", allowing Aragonés to be invested this Friday in the first round, or at the latest on Sunday in the second round.

Among the voices expressing this opinion are some party executive leaders, members of the current government in office, as well as deputies of the new legislature.

They endorse the two-year margin to review the dialogue table as well as the vote of confidence on Aragonès in 2023.

Possible government pacts

Because no party obtained the absolute majority of 68 seats needed to fully control the Catalan parliament in the February 14 election, a governing deal will have to be forged.  

While the Socialists were the most voted party in the February 14 election, they tied at 33 seats with Esquerra Republicana (ERC), the pro-independence party led by Aragonès, which together with other pro-independence allies control 74 out of 135 seats and are in talks to form a new government. Borràs' party, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), came in third with 32 MPs. 

The Socialists’ presidential candidate, Salvador Illa, who resigned as Spain’s Health Minister to run in the election, has insisted that he deserves an opportunity to try to form a government, but has virtually no chances of succeeding without a majority of MPs supporting him.

To use our interactive tool to explore potential coalition agreements, click on the parties in the key to toggle them on and off and to see which possible party combinations could work to reach the required number of MPs.

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  • Logos of pro-independence parties CUP and ERC

  • Logos of pro-independence parties CUP and ERC

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