Intense week lies ahead in Catalan politics
Negotiations on swearing in of next president to be resumed on Monday
A key week in Catalan politics begins on Monday. The two pro-independence parties with the most seats in the parliament, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) and Esquerra Republicana (ERC) will continue negotiations on the swearing in of the next president of Catalonia after the initial investiture debate was postponed two weeks ago. As of yet, no concrete agreement has been made.
JxCat put forward a proposal to modify the presidency law thus allowing Carles Puigdemont, who remains in Belgium, to be reinstated at a distance. However, ERC asked for more time in order to come to a unified accord. The deposed Catalan president, removed from office by the Spanish government, risks arrest if he returns to the country.
Sources close to the parties told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) that JxCat and ERC have not liased on the weekend, but talks will continue on Monday at the start of a week that both candidacies have said will be "intense." JxCat remains adamant that Puigdemont is the only legitimate candidate, and is determined for him to be sworn in as president of the country once again.
A leaked proposal
A recent document from within the pro-independence and left-wing CUP party unveiled JxCat's plans for the deposed president to be sworn in as head of a ‘Council of the Republic’, in Brussels, on February 18.
What’s more, according to the internal document, JxCat foresees another swearing-in session in parliament on February 21 or 22, in which Puigdemont could be confirmed as the head of the Catalan government remotely. Before that, an amendment to the Catalan Presidency bill would be required. JxCat, which is headed by Puigdemont, has stated that there is a "hurry" to carry out the investiture as soon as possible.
Esquerra have stated that they would accept a candidate who would be able to govern the country immediately. According to ERC's number two, Marta Rovira, the party remains optimistic that a "global" agreement will be reached. Until such an accord is made between the parties, it remains unclear how, or when, the next head of the Catalan government will be sworn in.
Catalonia, governed from afar
The Catalan administration has been under Spanish rule since October 27, after the application of Article 155 of the Constitution and subsequent suspension of Catalonia's self-government. Spain has hinted it might not lift the suspension if Puigdemont is reinstated as president. Other options to succeed Puigdemont are on the table. Elsa Artadi, one of Puigdemon'ts closest allies and a Harvard doctor, is one of the favorites. But she has so far denied any plans to become the first female Catalan president.
Catalunya en Comú, a left-wing party in favor of self-determination but against independence, urged pro-independence forces to be "brave" and put forward alternatives to Puigdemont. In fact, spokeswoman Eulàlia Alamany said that, combined, left-wing pro-independence forces ERC and CUP have more seats than JxCat, so should be able to put forward alternative candidates to the presidency and not leave all the political initiative to Puigdemont's party. However, any alternative candidate would need the 34 votes of JxCat to be sworn in.