The separatist politician Pere Aragonès missed the required majority in the election of a new head of government in the Catalan parliament. For the candidate of the left-republican party ERC, only 42 MPs voted on Friday evening after ten hours of debate: the 33 of his own parliamentary group and the nine of the left-wing CUP. In the regional parliament with 135 members, he would have needed at least 68 votes. The 33-seat socialists and the other parties opposed to secession from Spain voted against the 38-year-old.
With its ERC, Aragonès is aiming for a new edition of the previous coalition with the liberal-conservative separatist party JxCat while tolerating the CUP. Previously, he was given little chance in the vote on Friday.
The JxCat was then decisive for the failure of Aragonès. The 32 MPs from the party of the former Prime Minister of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, who had fled to Belgium, abstained. Negotiations on a coalition agreement had not progressed far enough, the party justified its position just six weeks after the February 14 election.
Agreement is getting complicated
Aragonès now wants to compete for a second time next Tuesday. Then a simple majority of the parliamentarians present is enough. Should it fail again, there would still be a deadline of May 26 to form a government. Otherwise there would be a new election.
JxCat group leader Albert Batet called on Aragonès not to run again on Tuesday to allow more time for an agreement. There is no doubt that Aragonès will be elected, but not yet. Aragonès refused, referring to the economic and social crisis and the corona pandemic. The new government must be able to act quickly.
The three parties ERC, JxCat and CUP are primarily united by the striving for independence in the economically strong region in north-east Spain. There are great differences in many other policy areas. That makes reaching an agreement complicated and making governance cumbersome.