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The main players involved in the negotiation to make Pere Aragonès the next Catalan president have agreed to that it will be difficult for the investiture of a new government to take place before the week of May 17th - and thus, getting close to the date on which a repeat election would be automatically triggered: May 26th.

For many days now, the ERC and Junts teams in charge of leading the talks have been in daily and permanent contact in their quest to bring the two parties' positions closer together. As they explain, the agreement is cooking over a very slow fire. Where it is progressing most is in the definition of the government programme that Aragonès's future executive will apply. Advances have been made in all areas to do with social and economic policies, but there are still many folders to be closed, for example in the institutional sphere and in security and public order.

Among the thorny points is the issue of the renewable energy projects that the CUP and ERC are committed to paralyzing, due to the liberalized economic approach taken. It is a moratorium that Junts disagrees with.

Getting round the Council for the Republic

ERC hopes to be able to complete the programmatic area this week, in order to have an agreement in principle ready by this Sunday. To make this possible, they are pressuring Junts to detach from the new government talks everything that has to do with the strategy debate, especially in relation to the Catalan exile body, the Council for the Republic. This is undoubtedly the area which is slowing down the conversations the most. The ERC proposal is to move ahead with the investiture and to continue negotiating on these areas with the government in progress.

The latest meeting between the two parties focused on this issue and, according to sources close to the talks, both parties were moving their positions closer, although without concluding anything. The discrepancy lies in Junts's desire to assign leadership of the roadmap towards independence to the Council for the Republic, which ERC does not accept. For the Republican Left, the exile body has to concentrate on the task of internationalization, but the decisions on the path to the Catalan Republic have to be decided autonomously by the government.

With this matter still to be resolved, the distribution of the government structure is also pending. Junts has amended the original proposal made by Aragonès. From the fourteen ministries mapped out by the president, they propose to subtract one. At the same time, they urge a rethink on some aspects such as the huge presidency ministry and the disappearance of the digital policy area.

ERC stretches the deadline until May 20th

Given all the loose ends, the negotiators take it for granted that deal will not be sealed for days. This morning ERC's Sergi Sabrià said as much on Catalan television, putting back until May 20th the deadline on deciding whether it is possible to repeat a coalition with Junts. At that point there will be six days until the cliff-edge, on May 26th, when Parliament would automatically dissolve and new elections would have to be called for July.

Sources from the parties have told this newspaper that the proposed Junts consultation of its members on the agreement reached with ERC is likely to be set around the weekend of May 15th and 16th. Therefore, it would not be until the last week before the deadline is reached that the investiture of the new government could be held.

In the main image, ERC negotiators. / Marc Puig