The Catalan independence movement, so often at loggerheads, hostile, accustomed to making partisan and short-sighted moves, has managed to reach an agreement for the composition of the Bureau of Parliament that augurs the best possible start of the legislature arising from the elections held on February 14th. The Republican Left (ERC), Together for Cataonia (Junts) and the Popular Unity Candidature (CUP) will have at least four of the seven members of the Bureau and ensure a majority that reliably reflects the 52% of votes and 74 seats obtained. As was expected to happen, the agreement blocks the access of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) to the speaker's position in Parliament, and thus the PSC, as happened to Ciudadanos under Inés Arrimadas in 2017, will play the role of leader of the opposition in the Catalan chamber during the years ahead even though it was the party that finished first in the election.
The task of being speaker in the chamber will fall to Laura Borràs, the Junts politician who led the party into the last elections. It will be the first time in the history of the Catalan Parliament that the presidential contender of an electoral candidacy occupies the office, which demonstrates the political importance it has gained in recent years, a significance far above any position in the government, with the logical exception of the presidency of Catalonia itself. It is only necessary to see the key political prominence that has been played by Carme Forcadell or Roger Torrent to have an idea of the revised value now given to a role that once had more institutional weight than political prominence. In the case of Borràs, the decision she faced was whether to put her name forward as speaker or vice president of the government under Pere Aragonès, and the decision she has taken seems the best possible for her political career.
The acquisition of the speaker's position by Borràs has been completed, from the pro-independence point of view, with a deputy speaker's seat for ERC and two further secretaries - lower-ranked Bureau members - for Junts and the CUP respectively. The presence of the CUP is the other important new development in the pro-independence parties' pact, as it is the first time the left-wing party has taken a place on the Bureau of Parliament, breaking a dynamic that has already lasted three terms, since they won their first seats on 2012. Their presence is interesting and will surely give them more options than might seem likely with just a single member. Basically, because if, in the last-minute negotiations, ERC does not secure a fifth pro-independence place, which could logically end up in the hands of the Comuns if the unionists make it a priority to stop it from falling into the hands of the independence parties, then the CUP representative will be essential to form majorities.
The agreement for the Bureau is no guarantee of a quick agreement for the formation of the new government between ERC and Junts, but it was an essential condition to prevent the collapse of the legislature and the predicament of new elections. Instead, the second phase can now begin, and it will need three major agreements: the roadmap for the legislature, which has been roughly shaped out but lacks details, particularly on points in the generic area of the "dialogue table"; the distribution of departments that each party will manage, which will not be easy, since the parties' starting positions are greatly separated; and the choice of names to fill each ministerial role - with a likely increase from 13 to 15 portfolios or, with difficulty, even 17 - and, this time, yes, scrupulous compliance with gender parity not only in the ministeral picks for the new government but also in the levels of the organizational chart below them.
In short, the two parties have a lot of work ahead of them, both in the negotiation discussions that are already publicly known, and in the conversations in Lledoners prison between Oriol Junqueras and Jordi Sànchez, both having key roles in the last few hours.