Preliminary agreement for pro-independence coalition government

Esquerra and Junts expected to share cabinet again as snap election avoided at the eleventh hour

ERC's Pere Aragonès speaks with Junts' Jordi Sànchez in the Catalan parliament (by Bernat Vilaró)
ERC's Pere Aragonès speaks with Junts' Jordi Sànchez in the Catalan parliament (by Bernat Vilaró) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 17, 2021 05:55 PM

The two main pro-independence parties, Esquerra and Junts per Catalunya, announced a preliminary agreement for a coalition government on Monday morning.

After a three-month negotiation period, the term is finally expected to start and a snap election – which will be launched if no Catalan president is elected by lawmakers by May 26 – will be avoided at the eleventh hour.

Esquerra's presidential bidder, Pere Aragonès, will be backed by his party, alongside Junts. Far-left CUP had already reached a deal to support Aragonès in late March as long as any further deal with Junts was not incompatible with the anticapitalists' conditions. 

In a joint statement issued on Monday morning, the two pro-independence political forces say they reached the deal over the weekend after two days of discreet meetings held by Aragonès and Sànchez. 

Both Aragonès and Junts' secretary-general, Jordi Sànchez, appeared before the press on Monday at 1:30 pm at Barcelona's Palau Robert to elaborate on the details of their agreement.

According to future president Aragonès, the upcoming term will be a "non-conformist period" in which major transformation will take place in four domains: socially, environmentally, in terms of women's rights, and with a so-called "democratic revolution."

Each party will manage 7 ministries each, including the newly created Feminism and Climate Action ministries

ERC will manage the Presidency, Interior, Education, Feminism, Culture, Labor and Climate Action ministries, while JxCat will be in charge of Economy, Health, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Digital Policies, Research, and Social Rights.

Aragonès and Sànchez stressed the importance of taking advantage of the fact that together, pro-independence parties achieved over 50% of the vote in the February 14 election, agreeing on the need to achieve "an amnesty and self-determination via dialogue and negotiations as well as civic and pacific confrontation" with Spain.

"There will be no justice in this country until repression, exile, and prison sentences, as well as legal and administrative cases imposed by Spain's repression, come to an end," said JxCat secretary-general Jordi Sànchez. 

Apologies for delayed deal

"The two parties apologize for having taken so much time in sealing a deal and commit to putting together a government which seeks to build up the citizens' trust again, with maximum trust being shared between partners and collaboration with CUP," the statement reads. 

"Our aim is to serve the country and its people in the best way possible, to govern for everyone and progress toward the common aim of an independent Catalan Republic."

The announcement comes after over three months of failed efforts to reach a deal between the two parties. Indeed, after having set the deadline for an agreement as May 1, on May 8 Aragonès announced they would no longer negotiate a shared cabinet with Junts because they were not "ready" to seal such a deal. Thus, the interim president said they would seek a minority agreement with the external support of other parties, including Junts. 

Consensus in avoiding snap election

Yet, last week, in an all-pro-independence-party meeting called by CUP, the three parties found consensus in the fact that a snap election had to be avoided. 

Esquerra, Junts per Catalunya and CUP decided to separate the debate on how to achieve independence from that surrounding governance. 

Indeed, "creating a space to debate the strategy of the pro-independence camp beyond governance" was one of the shared commitments.

The acting spokesperson of the Catalan government, Meritxell Budó, welcomed the agreement on Tuesday, stressing that the 52% of votes won by pro-independence parties in February was "an opportunity that couldn't be missed."

Role of Puigdemont's organization

Differences of opinion have arisen during the talks over who should be in charge of overseeing the path to independence, and whether this would mean that the government has a watchdog or reports to an entity beyond the traditional institutions.

Junts has been insisting on the former president Carles Puigdemont's private organization Council for the Republic monitoring the road to independence – although they have denied that this would mean any interference in the cabinet's decision-making.

Meanwhile, Esquerra and CUP are skeptical and accuse the body of being "biased," taking into account that Puigdemont is at the same time leader of the Council for the Republic and of Junts per Catalunya.