21.01.2016 - 18:58
New Catalan President Carles Puigdemont committed himself to putting Catalonia “on the verge of”independence within 18 months and doing it “with all the guarantees and without false moves”. During the first plenary session of the new term of office, Puigdemont defined the new government as “renewed, reorganised and modern”and called for “permanent dialogue”with all the groups in the Parliament and not only with their pro-independence partner, radical left CUP. In the same vein, CUP warned that parliamentarian stability will depend on the executive’s will to give priority to the social interests rather than to those of the private sector and the EU’s mandates.
The new Catalan President outlined two main objectives to be reached during this term of office. One is to maintain the services for all citizens in order to fight the consequences of the economic crisis and the other is to respond to the democratic mandate expressed in the 27-S Catalan Elections, which he defined as “clear and undeniable”. “We won’t restrict or ourselves nor renounce reaching as many agreements as possible with as many groups as possible”assured Puigdemont and added that the government will “definitely”coincide with many of the other groups on the chamber’s proposals.
Thus, the new Catalan President made clear that ‘Junts Pel Sí’s agreement with CUP is not likely to be the only one. Following this, CUP member Joan Garriga, who took office after CUP’s leader, Antonio Baños, decided to quit, nuanced CUP’s commitment to ‘Junts Pel Sí’. According to Garriga, parliamentarian stability will depend on the executive’s will to give priority to the social interests rather than to those of the private sector and the EU’s mandates. Besides this, Garriga emphasised his commitment to the pro-independence process and the breaking with Spain, as long as this is based on three pillars: “independence, constitutive process and social rescue”.
As an example of his government’s commitment to fighting the consequences of the economic crisis Puigdemont named the figure of the vice-president, left-wing ERC’s leader Oriol Junqueras, who is also in charge of the Catalan Ministry for Economy and Tax Office.
Catalonia, “on the verge of”independence within 18 months
The second main goal of the new government is to “plan, design and execute”all the tasks related to the pro-independence process “which have to put Catalonia on the verge of a new independent state in the shape of a republic” so that it could “serve all the citizens’progress, regardless of their condition and opinions”, stated Puigdemont. According to the new President, a Catalan state would serve citizens “much better than the current [Spanish] State or any autonomy has done so far”. Puigdemont, who insisted that the democratic mandate resulting from the 27-S Catalan Elections is “clear and undeniable”, assured that the roadmap towards independence will be achieved “with all the guarantees, without any false move and without improvising”, since the final objectives are “the citizens’and their wellness”.
Indeed, a commission to study the constitutive process has been approved during this the first plenary session. Pro-independence forces ‘Junts Pel Sí’and CUP voted in favour, as well as alternative left coalition ‘Catalunya Síque es Pot’. Although the pro-independence forces wanted the commission to be legislative, “we wanted to be inclusive and discuss it with those groups which still believe in a possible fitting within Spain” explained CUP MP Eulàlia Reguant, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the Catalan People’s Party (PPC) and anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans voted against it, as they felt that such a commission represents only 48% of the citizensin Catalonia, those who voted for pro-independence forces in the elections.
A “renewed, reorganised and modern”executive
The head of the opposition, Inés Arrimadas, accused the members of the new government of choosing according to their commitment to the pro-independence process rather than to their professional career. Ciutadans’ leader also criticised the creation of the Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs. According to Arrimadas, the Catalan Government has competences “in foreign actions”but not in foreign affairs.
Puigdemont, who described the new government as “renewed, reorganised and modern”, wanted to emphasise that the Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs is within the legality of the agreements. The Ministry’s main purposes will be projecting Catalonia to the world and explaining the pro-independence process but also applying the “law of transparency”, which was approved in the last term of office.