Puigdemont announces intention to form government, Socialists open talks to seek majority

Socialist Party defy Puigdemont's "threats" to "block" Spanish executive and will seek to name Illa president

Junts+ candidate Carles Puigdemont
Junts+ candidate Carles Puigdemont / Nico Tomás
Catalan News

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May 13, 2024 12:20 PM

May 13, 2024 02:24 PM

Pro-independence Junts+ candidate Carles Puigdemont announced on Monday his intention to form a government and become the next Catalan president after Sunday's inconclusive election.

In a crowded press conference in Argelès, southern France, where the former Catalan president has been campaigning for the past two weeks, Puigdemont declared his capacity to secure a "larger and more coherent" majority than the Socialists.


In Sunday's Catalan election, Junts+ secured 35 seats, three more than in the previous election, coming second behind the Socialist Party, who have also announced they have started talks with the aim of gathering support for a majority.

However, the pro-independence parties together lack a majority, and Puigdemont's path to the presidency now depends on gaining the support of the pro-independence Esquerra and the CUP, as well as securing the abstention of the Socialists.

Although this is an unlikely combination, Puigdemont could use his party's seats in the Spanish Congress, on which Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez's majority depends, to get the Socialists to abstain.

"The coherent government of Salvador Illa would have 48 MPs [the Socialists and Comuns], our government would have a minimum of 55 and a maximum of 59 [with Esquerra and CUP]. There is much more parliamentary strength with a government led by us than with one led by Salvador Illa," he asserted.

Despite winning the election with 42 seats, Salvador Illa's government would need the support of Comuns Sumar and the conservative People's Party, with the far-right Vox abstaining as the left-wing pro-independence Esquerra party is likely to block it.

However, Esquerra's candidate and current Catalan president Pere Aragonès announced that he would go into opposition, indicating that he might not support either Puigdemont's bid.

Puigdemont extended a hand to Esquerra, urging them to "rebuild bridges" and acknowledging that "we all make heated judgments" on election night, but urged Esquerra "not to close the door".

"We want to provide Catalonia with a functioning government that stands up to Madrid and avoids a new election," he said. "There are certain options to gather enough votes and move forward with a legislature where we have a lot of work to do," he concluded.

Puigdemont publicly congratulated Illa on his victory yesterday, but has not yet spoken to him personally. However, he confirmed that the two parties have been in contact.

"The distance between us and Illa is similar to that between Sánchez and Alberto Núñez Feijóo in the Spanish Congress, and Feijoo is not the president," he added.

Puigdemont, who has been living in exile since 2017 at the height of the independence movement, said he would return to Catalonia the day the next president is appointed.

Post-election talks begin

The morning after the election, reactions from all parties poured in, focusing mainly on possible post-election agreements.

The Socialists hope to gain a majority and govern in Catalonia. 

Speaking in a press conference on Monday, Socialist Núria Parlon said that her party "will not make Puigdemont president despite his threats to block" the Spanish government in Madrid. 

The Spanish Congress in Madrid is delicately balanced, with Pedro Sánchez's executive supported by an unstable majority which needs the support of Junts to pass any bills. The Socialists needed to negotiate with pro-independence Esquerra and Junts to name Sánchez Prime Minister.   

CUP candidate Laia Estrada reiterated her rejection of an agreement with the Socialists and did not clarify her support for Puigdemont. She warned that an agreement would be "complicated" if Junts+ proposed "the same economic program as the Socialists". 

Comuns-Sumar campaign director David Cid said on Monday that the "only real possibility" and the "only viable majority" is a left-wing coalition government. 

In an interview with public broadcaster TV3, Cid said it was up to the Socialists to see "if they have the will to reach an agreement for a left-wing coalition government". 

The far-right Vox candidate, Ignacio Garriga, insisted on Monday that they would not support a possible investiture bid by Salvador Illa