Parliament set for vote on future Catalan president next Friday

Lawmakers will have their say on the next head of government by the end of the week, says speaker

Catalan parliament speaker Laura Borràs (by Job Vermeulen)
Catalan parliament speaker Laura Borràs (by Job Vermeulen) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 22, 2021 11:08 AM

The speaker of the Catalan parliament, Laura Borràs, has confirmed that lawmakers will be summoned on Friday to vote on who should be the next head of the government, a move that could pave the way for Esquerra Republicana's Pere Aragonès to be greenlighted as president by the pro-independence majority in the chamber.

In accordance with the chamber's regulations, the first debate on who should become the next Catalan president must take place within ten working days of a new parliament's opening session. As this occurred on March 12, Borràs has scheduled the discussion for the last day possible within this timeframe.

In order to officially become Catalonia's president on Friday, the candidate 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. 

In an interview with public broadcaster TV3 on Monday morning, Borràs said that on Thursday she will announce the name of the presidential candidate with sufficient parliamentary support to be officially appointed by MPs.

Potential Catalan presidents

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.

Preliminary ERC-CUP deal

Borràs' announcement comes a day after Esquerra and far-left CUP finalized a preliminary agreement to elect Aragonès as Catalonia's next president.

Sunday's deal adds pressure on that party, led from exile in Belgium by former president Carles Puigdemont, to join, particularly after the agreement to elect Laura Borràs as parliament speaker.

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.

"I don't know about its contents or how effective it is," Sàmper told Ser Catalunya radio station of the deal that calls for a parliamentary review of policing and an end to the use of foam bullets by the Mossos d'Esquadra, the police force his department oversees.  

Budó, meanwhile, 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.

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.  

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.