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Junts to abstain in first vote on Aragonès' presidential bid, prohibiting him for now

CUP will vote in favour, but Esquerra's frontrunner will not have enough support as talks among pro-independence parties are set to continue

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25 March 2021 07:39 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Pro-independence Junts per Catalunya will abstain in the first vote on Pere Aragonès' bid to become president of Catalonia on Friday in parliament.

This means that Esquerra's frontrunner will not be successful in his hopes to become the new Catalan president – for now.

A second round of voting will be held either on Sunday or on Tuesday, but if Aragonès wants to succeed, he will have to persuade his current government senior coalition partner to exchange roles in the coming term.

Earlier on Thursday, the anti-capitalist CUP had confirmed its Yes vote on Esquerra's figurehead – but their nine seats will not be enough to garner a majority.

While the far-left pro-independence force reached a deal with Aragonès' party, talks are still underway with Junts.

One of the main discrepancies between the two remain on the way forward in the independence push – both have struggled to find unity in this issue ever since the 2017 referendum and declaration of independence.

While JxCat prioritizes resuming a "peaceful confrontation" with Spain following the strategy of 2017 and is sceptical on the idea of engaging in dialogue with Madrid, Esquerra prioritizes talks with the Spanish government rather than taking a unilateral approach.

One of the key aspects blocking the negotiations between the two pro-independence forces is which mechanism will be used to monitor and find consensus in the moves for a Catalan state in the future.

While Junts defend that it should be the Council for the Republic, a private organization chaired by their leader and former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, the one coordinating policies dealing with the national issue, Esquerra and CUP believe that a new body should be created integrating several civic groups including the Council for the Republic.

Both Esquerra and CUP have recently suggested that Puigdemont's organization is biased and favours his own political party.

Support from CUP

Earlier on Friday, Esquerra had already received confirmation of the support from the far-left CUP party for Aragonès' bid.

The two parties had reached an agreement earlier in the week which was then put to CUP's party members, who approved of it despite 85% deeming it "insufficient" and MP Eulàlia Reguant warning that the deal that it was not a "blank check." 

The agreement will see a vote of confidence on Pere Aragonès' presidency in 2023, as well as a review of whether the dialogue table to find a solution to the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain was worth continuing to pursue. 

The two parties also agreed that the "housing emergency" requires urgent action and, in the medium term, changes to the housing model. They also want to change the protocols on evictions involving vulnerable people.

Regarding health, with the next term sure to be dominated by Covid-19 and its effects, ERC and CUP express the desire to strengthen primary care and place it "at the center of the public health system." They have an agreed aim to spend 25% of the health budget in this area.

As well as broader changes to policing and public order in the form of a parliamentary review, the parties want to suspend the use of foam bullets by the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan police). A 19-year-old woman in Barcelona lost an eye to a foam bullet during protests in February.

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  • Junts per Catalunya's Laura Borràs speaking at a campaign rally ahead of the 2021 elections (by Pere Francesch)

  • Junts per Catalunya's Laura Borràs speaking at a campaign rally ahead of the 2021 elections (by Pere Francesch)

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