The Catalan Parliament holds the new term’s first session and re-elects Núria de Gispert (CiU) as Speaker
The 10th legislative term of the Catalan Parliament kicked off with the election of the chamber’s Bureau, a preliminary step before voting for the President of the Catalan Government. The Speaker will now hold talks with party leaders to analyse support and designate a candidate for Catalan President. Following last week’s agreement among 5 of the 7 parties sitting in the chamber, Núria de Gispert, from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), has been re-elected as President of the Catalan Parliament. The CiU, the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), the Catalan Socialists (PSC), the People’s Party (PP) and the Catalan Green Socialists and Communists (ICV-EUiA) have split the rest of the Bureau’s offices. The two smallest parties, the anti-Catalan nationalism ‘Ciutadans’ and the radical left-wing and independence party CUP have been left out of the Bureau.
Barcelona (ACN).- The 10th legislative term of the Catalan Parliament kicked off on Monday with the election of the chamber\u2019s Bureau, a preliminary step before voting for the President of the Catalan Government. Following last week\u2019s agreement among 5 of the 7 parties sitting in the chamber, Núria de Gispert, from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), has been re-elected as President of the Catalan Parliament. As of tomorrow morning, De Gispert will be holding the first round of exploratory talks to check on parliamentary support in order to designate a candidate for President of the Catalan Government and call for an election debate and vote in the Parliament, which should take place between Monday the 24th of December and Thursday the 3rd of January. Besides the Speaker, the rest of the Bureau\u2019s members were also named. The two Vice President offices are occupied by representatives from the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the CiU, as they are the backbone of the agreement and the two main parties in the house. The four Secretary positions of the Bureau have been given to one representative of each of the following parties: the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the CiU, the People\u2019s Party (PP) and the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA). The two smallest parties in the Parliament, the anti-Catalan nationalism \u2018Ciutadans\u2019 (C\u2019s) and the radical left-wing and independence party CUP, have been left out of the agreement and the Bureau. In her first speech after her re-election, De Gispert defined the present legislative term as \u201Cthat of the crisis but also that of the right to decide\u201D on Catalonia\u2019s future. She stated that \u201Cnobody has ever been able to switch off the flame of Catalan identity or our will to be a free people and a full nation [\u2026] despite the too-frequent attempts to destroy the Catalan identity\u201D. Some opposition parties have criticised De Gispert for making \u201Ca partisan speech\u201D too focused on Catalonia\u2019s self-determination issue.
The next step, electing the President of the Catalan Parliament
Already as President of the Catalan Parliament, De Gispert has announced that she will be holding the first round of exploratory talks on Tuesday. During the morning she will be talking with the leaders of the 6 smaller groups and in the afternoon with the leader of the CiU, which won 50 MPs in the 135-seat chamber. It is expected that the CiU leader and Acting Catalan President, Artur Mas, will be named candidate, as he has the support of his own group and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC). Mas will very likely be re-elected President but it is not clear when the debate and the vote will take place. The CiU and the ERC are negotiating a stable agreement to hold for the entire term, although the left-wing party would not sit in the Cabinet. Despite negotiations having almost been completed, some points are still being discussed. This could delay the re-election vote, and even Mas\u2019 designation as candidate. In fact, it was Mas who stated during the weekend that he wanted all the points to be set before being re-elected.
A more diverse Bureau
In any case, the part of the agreement concerning the Catalan Parliament was set around a week ago, and the other parties were included in the negotiations, which resulted in a more diverse Bureau than last term. Núria de Gispert, from the Christian-Democrat side of the CiU, repeats her role as Speaker, an office she took in 2010, being the first woman ever to chair the Catalan Parliament. De Gispert was Catalan Minister for Justice between 1995 and 2001, Minister for Public Administration and Institutional Relations (2001-2002) and Minister for Justice and Home Affairs (2002-2003).
The first Vice President will be Anna Simó, an historical member of the ERC who was Catalan Minister for Social Affairs between 2003 and 2006 and later Spokesperson for her party in the Parliament. The second Vice President will be Lluís Corominas (CiU), who was the Parliament\u2019s first VP last term. Corominas has been in charge of the CiU\u2019s electoral strategy and territorial organisation during the last few years.
The Parliament Bureau\u2019s first Secretary is Miquel Iceta, who used to be Deputy Secretary General for the Catalan Socialists (PSC) and the party\u2019s Spokesperson between 2000 and 2011. He had also been the PSC\u2019s \u2018number two\u2019 in the Catalan Parliament between 1999 and mid-2012. The Parliament\u2019s second Secretary is Josep Rull, from the CiU, who has been a Councilman in Terrassa (Greater Barcelona) since 2003. In addition, Rull is the Organisation Secretary of the CDC, the Liberal party in the CiU coalition. The third Secretary is Pere Calbó, from the PP, who has been a Councilman in Igualada (Central Catalonia) since 1995. In addition, Calbó is the Organisation Secretary of the Catalan branch of the PP. Lastly, the fourth Secretary is David Companyon, who is a member of the EUiA, the Communist side of the ICV-EUiA coalition. Companyon is a member of the trade union CCOO and many social associations.
\u201CNobody has ever been able to switch off the flame of Catalan identity\u201D
Once re-elected, De Gispert addressed the Parliament and defined the present legislative term as \u201Cthat of the crisis but also that of the right to decide\u201D on Catalonia future. She stated that \u201Cnobody has ever been able to switch off the flame of Catalan identity or our will to be a free people and a full nation\u201D. In addition, she added that \u201Cwe have had a difficult history, but we are still here\u201D. She continued by saying that despite the current hard economic times \u201Cand the too-frequent attempts to destroy the Catalan identity\u201D, Catalonia is \u201Cwilling to open new paths [\u2026] to glance at new horizons, to make a new fire\u201D. \u201CWe come from very far away and we are going even further carrying dreams and light\u201D, she emphasised. De Gispert pointed out the history of Catalonia\u2019s Assemblies of Peace and Truce from the 11th century, the Catalan Codes of Law from the 12th century and Catalonia\u2019s \u2018Consolat de Mar\u2019, which established the world\u2019s first maritime legislation, from the 14th century. In the light of this tradition, she asked the new Catalan legislators to continue the work of their predecessors and continue \u201Cspreading seeds of peace, justice and concord\u201D going beyond \u201Cthe more or less vehement expression of political discrepancies\u201D.
Criticism from some opposition parties
Some opposition parties have criticised De Gispert\u2019s speech for being \u201Ctoo partisan\u201D, as Pere Navarro, the PSC leader stated. Navarro accused De Gispert of \u201Cexpressing only a part of what the 135 Members of the Catalan Parliament think\u201D. The President of the Catalan PP, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, stated that \u201Cthe term kicked off by offering Catalan citizens\u2019 the [Parliament\u2019s] back\u201D and not talking about \u201CCatalans\u2019 real problems\u201D. In addition, she asked for the re-election vote for the next Catalan President to be held this week. According to her, the fact that negotiations are taking so long shows that Mas \u201Chas been kidnapped by the ERC\u201D. Joan Herrera, who leads the ICV-EUiA, celebrated the fact that the Bureau \u201Chas recovered its pluralism\u201D, as in the last term, neither the ICV-EUiA nor the ERC were part of the Bureau, as the CiU only reached an agreement with the PP and the PSC. Herrera asked for this pluralism to be extended to all the bodies elected by the Catalan Parliament, including the council running Catalonia\u2019s Public Television and Radio Broadcasts. Albert Rivera, President of C\u2019s, lamented that his party \u201Cwas excluded\u201D from the Bureau. He added that the fact that the CiU and the ERC have not reached a stable agreement regarding government priorities yet show \u201Cthe instability of the new Catalan Government\u201D. Finally, David Fernández, from the CUP, explained that the 3 CUP MPs voted for regular citizens as members of the Bureau as a \u201Csymbolic vote\u201D. They voted a man victim of a house eviction order as Speaker and a woman who lost an eye a month ago during an intervention by the riot brigade of the Catalan Police in circumstances still being investigated as Vice President.