The two pro-independence mainstream parties, Esquerra and Junts per Catalunya, announced a preliminary agreement for a coalition government on Monday morning. After a three-month negotiation, in the end, the term is expected to launch and a snap election, which would 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. Both Aragonès and Junts’ secretary-general, Jordi Sànchez, will make a joint appearance at 1.30 pm on Monday in which they will share the details of their agreement.
According to VilaWeb sources, ERC will take over the management of the Interior Department, and one of the names that sounds to direct it is former Parliament speaker Roger Torrent. Esquerra will also manage Culture. For its part, Junts per Catalunya will take over the Health area, which will probably be headed by Josep Maria Argimon, currently Secretary General of Public Health. They will also head Justice and Foreign Affairs, which until now had ERC ministers.
A deal hard to reach
In a joint statement, the two pro-independence political forces say they reached the deal throughout the weekend after two days of discreet meetings between Aragonès and Sànchez. “The two parties apologize for having taken so much time in sealing a deal and commit to put together a government which seeks to build up again the citizens’ trust, with the maximum trust between partners and joint work and collaboration with CUP,” the statement reads. “Our aim is serving the country and its people in the best possible way, governing for everyone and progressing toward the common aim of an independent Catalan Republic.”
The announcement comes after over three months of unsuccessful efforts to reach a deal between the two. Indeed, after having set the deadline of 1 May for an agreement, on 8 May 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. 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 governance. Indeed, “creating a space to debate the strategy of the pro-independence camp beyond governance” was one of the shared commitments. 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.
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