The election of Pere Aragonès as the national coordinator of Esquerra Republicana (ERC) in the party's new leadership, as proposed by Oriol Junqueras (in provisional detention) and Marta Rovira (exiled in Geneva) to members this Sunday, means the total consolidation of the Catalan vice-president as the man called on to climb to the party's highest institutional responsibilities. The meteoric political career of Aragonès, just 36 years old and until two years ago a town councillor in Pineda de Mar, marks a generational handover in the daily running of the organisation and a determined and uninhibited wager on a political approach which, in his own words, would mean that the independence movement moves beyond the debate on the unilateral path.
Aragonès has three aces to play: he's a person who has Junqueras' highest trust, as a consultant he's a well-regarded in Barcelona's business and by the financial entities he maintains a fluid dialogue with and, finally, he comes from the party's youth wing, having even been its spokesperson. He has, as such, a pedigree, which protects from some of the internal criticism there could be at a time when Esquerra has made its openness to leaders of other political parties one of the pillars of its actions.
Although this Sunday's votes didn't cover choosing a candidate for the Catalan presidency, as normal in the run-up to a sentence when the independence movement must continue advocating the release of its leaders unjustly held in a long provisional detention, it's clear that Aragonès has just gained a boost he perhaps didn't have before. His candidacy is the clearest, in fact, the only one that would be logical and consistent if Junqueras and Rovira cannot head the list.
Esquerra has other names to call on, some of them perhaps even better-known or more popular among the public. But also with more sides to them and, doubtlessly much more controversial when it comes time for a decision as complex as who to vote for in an election for president. In any case, ERC is currently one of the organisations with the greatest cohesion among its leadership and it seems unlikely (if not impossible) that any decision promoted by Junqueras will be amended.
There's no election date for Catalonia, although everything suggests one will come in the first six months of next year; too much time with all the political uncertainties there are in Catalonia. Esquerra has made a successful move, whilst the other large political party of the independence movement continues to go back and forth and is running out of time to put its house in order.