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Pere Aragonès appeals to ‘left-wing majority for a Catalan republic’ in push to become president

Referendum talks with Spain, climate action and feminism ministries, Covid-19 emergency plan - key proposals in doomed bid for office

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26 March 2021 12:56 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

In a last-ditch attempt to be confirmed as Catalan president on Friday, pro-independence politician Pere Aragonès has addressed lawmakers in Parliament, appealing to a "left-wing majority for a Catalan republic" to back his bid for office. 

"I imagine a country that’s fully aware that without equality there’s no freedom. Where fraternity is inseparable from economic freedom. A feminist, ecologist, and pro-European country," Aragonès said in his presidential candidate speech.   

Despite winning a majority of parliamentary seats in the February 14 election, the three parties in favor of Catalan independence, ERC, JxCat and CUP, have failed to seal a deal to appoint Aragonès as president and form a new government—at least for now.

  • "I imagine a country that’s fully aware that without equality there’s no freedom"

    Pere Aragonès · ERC's presidential candidate

In control of 33 seats, Aragonès and his Esquerra (ERC) party managed to reach an agreement with far-left CUP, which has 9 lawmakers. But in order to surpass the 68-vote majority threshold, he also needs the backing of Junts per Catalunya’s 32 MPs, which are set to abstain when votes are cast later in the day.

In his parliamentary address, Aragonès thanked CUP’s "generosity and willingness to reach an agreement," and also addressed JxCat, saying that they share "the goal of dealing with the social emergency, economic reconstruction, and solving the conflict with Spain."

If Aragonès fails to surpass the 68-seat majority of favorable MP votes on Friday, a second round of voting will be held either on Sunday or Tuesday that will only require a simple majority to be successful. Still, JxCat’s abstention will continue to make Aragonès’ bid futile if all the other groups vote against him.

How to deal with the independence push

Aragonès laid out ERC’s plan to deal with the ongoing territorial dispute with Spain, which is substantially less belligerent than that of its pro-independence allies. He called for unity to resume talks with the Spanish government, which he labeled as the "most difficult negotiation the Catalan government has ever faced."

The candidate hopes to pressure Spanish authorities to achieve a self-determination referendum and an amnesty for all the politicians and activists prosecuted, exiled and jailed for their role in the 2017 independence bid, when Catalonia held an unauthorized vote. So far, both goals have proven to be elusive.

As part of the agreement with CUP, Aragonès promised to face a confidence vote in two years' time, and establish objective mechanisms to evaluate whether dialogue with Spain is producing any fruits.

Aragonès’ initial speech openly supported a left-wing agenda, and in some occasions was even reminiscent of CUP, with calls to "take the patriarchy down". He also pledged to create ministries focused on feminism and climate action. 

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