The new Catalan Government takes office
The Vice President and the Ministers of the new Catalan Government were sworn into office at noon. The first Government meeting took place just afterwards to appoint most of the Deputy Ministers. In the afternoon, the former Vice President and Ministers switched portfolios with the new appointees. The Left-Wing Government coalition is, from today, officially over. The new President, Artur Mas, promises an efficient and austere Government, with experienced members.
Barcelona (ACN).- In a day of ceremonies, symbology, and meetings, the members of the new Catalan Government took office. They first were sworn into office, promising to be loyal to the current legislation and the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas. The new Vice President, the Christian Democrat, Joana Ortega, the first woman in the office, made her promise \u201Cwith the help of God\u201D. The rest of the new Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Government\u2019s members made their promises afterwards. In his speech, Artur Mas stressed that his government combines members with \u201Cgreat political experience and of tremendous professional quality\u201D, inspired to be \u201Cthe Government of the best\u201D he promised during the campaign. He also stated that his Government \u201Cgoes beyond party borders,\u201D as it includes independents and a former Socialist minister. Once the official ceremony and the subsequent reception were over, the new government met to appoint most of the Deputy Ministers and to determine the rough structure of the Government. Today it has been made public that Francesc Homs, the new Secretary General for the Presidency and Mas\u2019 right-hand man, will be the new and only Government spokesperson. In the afternoon, the Vice President and all the Ministers went to their new offices and met with their predecessors, who transferred the relevant portfolios to them. From today, the new Government starts work and the old one leaves office definitively.
The day started at noon with the solemn ceremony in the Sant Jordi room, at the Generalitat Palace, the seat of the Catalan Government. The Vice President and the 10 Ministers were ready to be sworn into office by the new President of the Government, Artur Mas, who took office last Monday. The first was, logically, the Vice President, Joana Ortega. Ortega will be responsible for Public Administration and Institutional Relations, which includes relations with the Spanish Government. She is from the Christian Democrat party, the smallest wing of the two-party Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU). She promised to serve \u201Cwith the help of God\u201D. The new Minister for Justice, the independent Pilar Fernández Bozal, did the same. The third Minister, who added a special sentence to the official \u201CYes, I promise,\u201D was the Health Minister, another independent, Boi Ruiz. He added \u201Cfor my honour\u201D. The new Government Secretary, Germà Gordó, a right-hand man of Artur Mas, read the appointment decree.
In this 20-minute ceremony, the new Catalan President, the CiU\u2019s leader, Artur Mas, gave a short speech. Mas stated that he was \u201Csatisfied\u201D at having formed a Government that \u201Cintegrates different sensitivities\u201D of the pro-Catalan political sphere. He stressed that his government goes beyond party borders, as it is not only formed by CiU members, but also includes three independents (Justice, Health and Business), a former member of the Catalan Socialist Party and a former Minister of 2006, the new Minister for Culture. President Mas underlined that his executive combines \u201Cgreat political experience with great professional quality,\u201D as he had promised as a candidate during the campaign, when he repeated that he would form \u201Cthe Government of the best.\u201D Mas also warned his ministers and the Catalan public: this is an \u201Cefficient and austere\u201D Government. \u201CThere will be less money, less resources, but with this we will have to do more and better,\u201D he stated. In fact, Mas\u2019 first priority is to combat the public deficit and revive the Catalan economy.
After the ceremony, the new Government posed for a group photo. Then, a short reception followed, in which family and friends were able to congratulate the new cabinet members. After the reception, at one o\u2019clock, the first Government meeting started. It was a short meeting, focused on appointing most new Deputy Ministers. On Friday, 31 December, another short meeting may be held to complete the series of appointments to the main Government positions. From January on, the Government will meet on Tuesdays, as usual.
Today, it has also been made public that Mas\u2019 right-hand man in the party and now in the Government, the new Secretary General for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, will be the Government\u2019s spokesperson. The new Government will have only one spokesperson, as opposed to the former Left-Wing Government that had not an appointed spokesperson and severe image problems. Homs may be joined by other Government members, depending on the occasion and the subjects being dealt with. However, Homs will not only be the spokesperson but a key player in the Government, at the President\u2019s right-hand, in charge of coordinating the various departments, defining the main policies and pushing for political action.
From two o\u2019clock in the afternoon, each Minister went to his or her new office, starting with the Vice President. There, the former Ministers were waiting to transfer their portfolios to the new Ministers. Therefore, from today on, the new Government is officially on its way as the old one leaves office. The electoral cycle is finished. Now, the new Government will finish making its key appointments, restructure the Ministries and adopt its first measures.