The Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, announced this Friday that he will not participate in this year's demonstration on the Diada of September 11th, Catalonia's National Day. The Catalan National Assembly (ANC), which is organizing the march, has stated that the aim is to push civil society "ahead" of the political parties, "with mobilizations and, if necessary, putting the heat on the institutions again". In addition, the ANC regrets the "inaction" of the parties, whom it "no longer relies on or believes in, for having abandoned the path to independence despite having received a clear mandate in the referendum of October 1st, 2017, and a pro-independence majority in the 2021 elections to Parliament".
Faced with this message, Aragonès has decided not to be present because he believes it would not be coherent, since, according to Catalan government sources, it is a demonstration against the parties and institutions, and not against the Spanish state. The president affirms that only by uniting the political parties and the public can the objective of independence be achieved, although he expresses his hope that the streets will be filled that day. The same sources note that he will be taking part in other events for Catalonia's National Day on September 11th, such as the traditional floral offering to Rafael Casanova in Barcelona, and the subsequent one in Sant Boi de Llobregat, and ending with the institutional event on Montjuïc.
Earlier this Thursday, the Catalan government spokeswoman, Patrícia Plaja, had maintained the mystery over the presence of Aragonès at the pro-independence mobilization, stating that the president would decide "over the next few days". "It is a decision of the president, he is the one who decides and draws up his agenda with his team", she explained. Despite the doubts, the spokesperson was quick to claim the importance of the Diada marches, explaining that "the strength of the independence movement is reflected in different mobilizations and acts that have the unequivocal objective of continuing to advance towards independence", arguing that they are all "necessary" to marke progress on this path.
Puigneró and all Junts ministers will be there
Despite the message emanating from the Catalan National Assembly, one senior Catalan government member who has affirmed his presence at the unitary pro-independence rally this year is the Catalan vice president, Jordi Puigneró. And this morning, the rest of the Junts per Catalunya ministers in the pro-independence coalition government followed suit: Jaume Giró (economy); Victoria Alsina (foreign affairs); Josep Maria Argimon (health); Gemma Geis (research and universities); Violant Cervera (social rights) and Lourdes Ciuró (justice).
During the Catalan National Day rally last year, Pere Aragonès and other members of ERC and the government were greeted with applause by some, but others responded to their presence with whistles and jeers, which occasionally became quite intense. With regard to the attendance at the Diada marches of previous heads of the Catalan executive, Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra never missed an appointment when they were presidents of the Generalitat, in the years from 2016 to 2020. Prior to that, there was no tradition by Catalan leaders of attending the massive marches, and Artur Mas was never there as president. This year is the eleventh year that the ANC has organized pro-independence rallies on Catalan National Day. They began at the Diada of 2012 and the continuity of the massive gatherings on September 11th has only been partially lost once - in 2020, when the pandemic reduced the scale of the events held.