The Commons group (Catalunya en Comú Podem), which maintains an equidistant position between the pro-independence and unionist blocks in the Catalan parliament, has closed the door on helping the largest unionist party Citizen (Cs) to win the parliamentary votes for the positions of speaker of the new Catalan Parliament and president of the new government. Sources in the Commons consulted by the Catalan News Agency made it clear that Cs leader Inés Arrimadas will not be able to count on their support. Under no circumstances, then, will the "new left" group led by Xavier Domènech use its votes to allow the Cs candidate to be invested as Catalan president.
In fact, Commons sources state that, if it is up to them, Arrimadas will not be head of the government, nor will any member of the unionist block be granted the position of speaker in the new Parliament. Up till now, the Cs party has retained the idea of attempting a unionist presidency in the event that the three independence lists - Together for Catalonia (JxCat), the Republican Left (ERC), and the Popular Unity Candidature (CUP) - are unable to reach agreement. But for that, they would need to be assured of the votes of Domènech's group.
The parliamentary arithmetic that has emerged from the Catalan election on 21st December gives the pro-independence block formed by JxCat (34 seats), ERC (32) and the CUP (4) a total of 70 seats. The opposing constitutionalist block made up of Cs (36), the Socialists of the PSC (17) and the Popular Party (4) has a total of 57 MPs. Between the two blocks, the Commons have 8. The options that Cs leader Arrimadas has of presiding over the new government partly depend on the situation of the five pro-independence MPs-elect who are in Brussels - Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig (JxCat), and Toni Comín and Meritxell Serret (ERC) - and the three that are in prison - Oriol Junqueras (ERC) along with Jordi Sànchez and Quim Forn (JxCat); as long as the status of these eight representatives remains uncertain - and they do not renounce their seats so that other members of their respective lists can occupy their places - there remains the possibility that the total of pro-independence MPs could be reduced to 62.
The numbers for Arrimadas
Given this prospect, Arrimadas would have enough votes to become president if at least six of the eight Commons MPs voted in favour of her investiture, and the other two abstained. The Cs candidate would thus obtain 63 votes, one more than the 62 of the independence block which would predictably be cast against her. Thus, Arrimadas could be chosen president in the second round of voting, when a simple majority is required, more 'yes' than 'no', rather than an absolute majority of the chamber. However, the firmness expressed by Domènech's team makes it practically impossible that Cs will find enough support.
Nevertheless, Arrimadas reiterated on Wednesday morning, in an interview with the radio station Onda Cero, that if the pro-independence parties "do not agree, if those who have fled do not renounce their seats so that others can occupy their places, we will be there to attempt to win the presidency". In this context, she added that she "has her doubts" that JxCat, ERC and the CUP will be able to reach agreement.
No contact between Commons and Cs
On the other hand, the sources consulted also pointed out that for the moment nobody from the Cs has contacted the Commons group to begin negotiation. Indeed, the Commons assure that they would not support Arrimadas either, even if Cs offered the position of parliamentary speaker to the Commons as part of the deal. This possibility has not even been put on on the table, according to the new left group.
Meanwhile, Inés Arrimadas insists that her party must preside over the new Parliament in order to prevent "the separatist parties from repeating the same nonsense and breaking the law once again". She told Onda Cero that her party has the right to preside over the Catalan chamber, given that Cs "won the elections" on 21st December.
The parliamentary speaker along with the other members of the Board that presides over the chamber's procedures are to be voted on 17th January, the day selected by the Spanish government for the constitution of the Catalan Parliament.