New government 'politically and democratically illegitimate,' says opposition

Cabinet formed with ministers named only by Esquerra Republicana "needs to be voted in Parliament or elections"

The Catalan parliament empty
The Catalan parliament empty / Gerard Escaich Folch
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

October 10, 2022 11:01 AM

October 10, 2022 05:02 PM

Members named by pro-independence Esquerra Republicana entirely form the new Catalan government. However, the opposition believes the cabinet is "politically and democratically illegitimate," as Laura Borràs, president of the former junior coalition partner Junts per Catalunya tweeted on Sunday night.

The executive needs to be greenlighted in the "Catalan parliament or in elections," the suspended Chamber speaker added as "coherence has to be the main political characteristic of those who lead."

The comments come after Catalan president Pere Aragonès said that the new cabinet will "represent the consensus of 80% of citizens" as surveys state that four out of five Catalans are in favor of a self-determination referendum. The leader continued as the executive will be one that will "always work for the service of the people and give its all," he said in a tweet sent on Sunday evening.

Later in the night, Laura Borràs concluded that the president "has lost all of its parliamentary support," as the head of the government decided to continue in his post despite "being backed representing 52% of Catalans, and now you only represent 21% of them," she said addressing Aragonès.

On a similar note, Junts' secretary general Jordi Turull responded that the Parliament "is the place to check whether the government represents the consensus of the 80%," he tweeted.

Not project, just names

The new cabinet is entirely made up of figures in favor of a referendum on independence in Catalonia, though not necessarily in favor of independence itself.

Five of the seven newly named ministers come from pro-independence backgrounds, but two do not - the new ministers for justice, rights, and memory, Gemma Ubasart, and Quim Nadal, the new minister for universities and research, were former high-ranking officials of the Catalan branch of left-wing Podemos and the Socialist party respectively.

"When we are not talking about policies, but names, it means that nothing changes," Eulàlia Reguant, MP for the pro-independence far-left anti-capitalist CUP party, tweeted.

Aragonès' comments did not go unnoticed as the former universities and research minister, Gemma Geis, responded to the president.

"With all due respect, but [Junts' cabinet members] have been working to our full capacity to serve the people," Geis shared on Twitter.

Unionist parties raise concerns about future

One of the most vocals against the new government has been the opposition leader and head of the Socialist party, Salvador Illa. 

The former Spanish health minister assured in an interview with Spanish La Razón daily, that "Socialists will not govern with ERC as we are not pro-independence, we are the alternative," Illa said.

While the leader of the opposition believes that the cabinet will continue, the head of the unionist Ciudadanos party, Ines Arrimadas, said that the government should not follow through.

"I believe that it was not only Junts per Catalunya who were the ones that had to leave. Everyone who has pushed for Catalonia to be in this decadency and divided situation should have left," Arrimadas said during an interview with Spanish TVE public broadcaster.

"The pro-independence movement will not reach independence for Catalonia, but transform it into a black hole where energies, resources, and opportunities go," she added.

On a similar note, Catalan People's Party leader Alejandro Fernández said. 

"With new elections, Catalans will have the opportunity to elect an alternative majority that does not include any pro-independence figures," he said during an interview with Catalan SER radio.

However, Fernández is aware that having this "alternative majority" will not be easy, as they will have to "reach deals" and everyone has very different political views.

Further to the new cabinet criticism, anti-austerity En Comú Podem party spokesperson David Cid has disregarded if the new executive members mean anything at all.

"Further to the people, it is very important to know what are the goals of the executive, and if the leader wants to build a new progressive majority," he said during an interview with the Spanish La2 TV channel.

"We are worried about the budget, about the strategical ideas of the executive, it is not about the members as we are talking about a weak government that we do not know how long it will last," he added.

Catalonia's official gazette confirms change of government

Catalonia's official gazette (DOGC) confirmed the new members of the Catalan government on Monday afternoon as the next step towards changing the executive.

New ministers will swear in on Tuesday morning ahead of the first cabinet meeting of the renewed government under Pere Aragonès' leadership.

The DOGC also confirmed that those cabinet members appointed by Junts per Catalunya did not continue in the executive. 

Catalan parliament speaker position

The investiture deal between Junts per Catalunya and Esquerra Republicana to make Pere Aragonès the Catalan president continues in place, according to ERC's president Oriol Junqueras

The agreement saw ERC taking the presidency while Junts took the chamber speaker position for Laura Borràs, currently suspended over corruption charges since July. 

Right now, the seat is occupied by acting parliament speaker Alba Vergès, from ERC, however, the future of the post "is a decision that Junts has to take," Junqueras said.

2023 budget law

One of the biggest tests ahead for the new cabinet that will be sworn in on October 11, will be the 2023 budget.

The former finance minister, Jaume Giró, from Junts had been preparing the spending plan for months, and on September 28 he allocated the funding to each department. 

Now, it is the turn of Esquerra's members to negotiate with other parties to greenlight the budget, however, Junqueras said that "the spending plan has been agreed with Junts," therefore it would be "weird" for the political force to vote against a spending plan that they considered great.

However, extending the current budget law is not something the party wants but they do not rule it out.

Despite the lack of a parliament majority, as the current government only has 33 seats out of the 135 in the Catalan parliament, other parties are in favor of greenlighting the cabinet's budget.

"The Socialist party, despite creating an alternative government, is open to negotiating the 2023 budget to make it a reality with as much consensus as possible, as this is what Catalonia needs," Èlia Tortolero, a spokesperson of the Socialist party, said.