Puigdemont's new party takes off with uncertainty over deal with center-right bloc
Catalan president Torra confident that independence camp will reach over 50% of ballots in upcoming election for first time
Carles Puigdemont's new political party, Junts per Catalunya, took off on Saturday with the opening of its foundational assembly.
Until now, Junts per Catalunya was the name under which the pro-independence center-right bloc PDeCAT along with other elements ran in the 2017 Catalan election led by Puigdemont – but it was not a regular political structure.
The former Catalan president and its closest allies had been in talks with PDeCAT to create a new party and leave behind the center-right bloc, the political heirs of Catalonia’s historic center-right group CDC, entangled in corruption cases before ceasing to exist in 2016.
Yet, the negotiations have not resulted in any deal yet, and ahead of a potential snap election, Puigdemont announced the creation of Junts per Catalunya as a party in early July.
While a deal between the pro-independence leader and PDeCAT is still possible as the parts have not formally broken off negotiations, the latest move of Puigdemont has raised mistrust in the heirs of CDC – the exiled politician had been member of CDC and is still member of PDeCAT while founding a new party.
On Saturday, in an event attended via video by the former president, and in-person by his closest allies including two jailed pro-independence leaders, the current chief of Catalonia, Quim Torra, expressed confidence that the movement in favor of a Catalan republic will reach over 50% of the ballots in the upcoming election for the first time.
The pro-independence share was not higher than 47.7% in the past two elections.
Puigdemont also talked during the event to say that the new party has to be "the central current in the country" rather than a "sectarian or exclusive" one.
He also called on the public to "build" the republic together.
The foundational assembly of Junts per Catalunya will last until October 3, as its promoters expect individual members of PDeCAT and other supporters to join – it is not clear whether a membership for both PDeCAT and Junts per Catalunya will be possible.
On August 9, the leadership of the new entity will be appointed – if no deal is not reached by that date, the center-right bloc will probably have no chair and the talks will be considered failed.
An electoral coalition as separate entities would be the last resort for joint cooperation to avoid two separate tickets in the upcoming vote – but this is seen as unlikely.