The general secretary of Together for Catalonia (Junts), Jordi Turull, has this Monday afternoon presented the question that his party will ask its rank and file membership about the party's continuity in Catalonia's pro-independence coalition government. It is a question, which also has a preamble, as ElNacional.cat revealed earlier today, which asks for an assessment of the relationship situation with coalition partner Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and of its breaches in the coalition agreement. Turull states clearly that the party members will hear how he himself will answer the question that is being asked. "A general secretary cannot look the other way," he explained. The consultation will open on Thursday 6th just after at midnight and will close on Friday 7th at 5pm.
Faced with the internal division that has been evident in Junts on whether or not to leave the government, Turull has assured that the consultation will not split the party in two. "I'm sure that Junts will not split and my obsession is that Junts per Catalunya will not split," he said. On the contrary, he avoided giving any clues to what will happen if the members reject the proposal that he as general secretary is backing in the consultation. "After the consultation we will evaluate the result in all respects. At the moment, that is jumping ahead", was the only comment he allowed himself each time he was asked.
The question posed to the 6,465 Junts party members with the right to vote is:
"The National Congress of the Party agreed that the membership will have to be consulted on the possibility of continuing in the government or not. After an audit of the Government Agreement between Junts and ERC of May 17th, 2021, it has been been found that there is non-compliance with central elements. With regard to this, Junts has formulated a series of proposals to guarantee compliance with the agreement. So far, these proposals have not been accepted by ERC. In compliance with the Congress's mandate, the following question is formulated: Do you want Junts to continue to be part of the current government of the Generalitat of Catalonia?"
The question was agreed on after a vote in which 44 members of the executive voted in favour and one abstained.
Turull admonishes ERC
Before explaining the content of the consultation, Turull reviewed how the negotiations with the president, Pere Aragonès, have proceeded in the last few days, and he did not spare ERC from criticism. He explained that the last proposal they presented to the Republicans included a reduction of demands on the legislative pact and was based on three points. The first, on the coordination space, with a proposal for the two parties to start meeting in the terms provided for in the signed Government Agreement before November 15th. The second, on the composition of the dialogue table, proposed that the Catalan delegation "can include members of the [Catalan] government and of the parliamentary groups that are part of the government" - this represents, as Turull stressed, a series of concessions in relation to the content of the original agreement. The third point demanded that the next coordination meeting between ERC and Junts - which is usually held on Mondays - would specify the mechanisms for coordination of the parliamentary groups in Madrid, in accordance with the provisions of the investiture agreement. "And ERC's answer to all three was no, despite the nuance made in the terms provided for in the government agreement", he replied, adding immediately that Junts had not received a counter-proposal. However, he affirmed that in the conversation he had with Pere Aragonès on Sunday morning in Tarragona, there was a will to "reach an agreement, try to repair things" and that it was "a frank and noble conversation".
Turull repeatedly insisted that Junts wanted to resolve the conflict with ERC and rebuild trust; and that in the conversations following the dismissal of Jordi Puigneró, they proposed to president Aragonès what was defined as a reset, to restart the negotiations. Junts showed its willingness to forget the possibility of raising a confidence question, and asked that if it was necessary to work through a complete process of trust, there could be the reinstatement of Jordi Puigneró as vice president. Aragonès' response was to demand "a serious response". "Our response was serious", replied Turull who underlined that the document the party sent to Aragonès even included the page of the original agreement in which these commitments appeared.
All of this, he recalled, began on August 29th, when Junts found in its audit that the government's agreements had not been fulfilled in three "core" aspects: the strategic direction of the independence movement, between parties and civil society groups; the dialogue table with the Spanish government; and coordination in Madrid among the pro-independence forces.
"We understood that the general policy debate [in the Catalan Parliament, last week] was a moment for these issues to be specified", he added, and for that reason their proposals were sent to president Aragonès. Turull avoided evaluating Junts's decision to present a question of confidence, which ended up being the trigger for the crisis.
In response to Xavier Trias, former Barcelona mayor and possible Junts candidate for the city council leadership in 2023, who declared himself stunned by the situation created by the confrontation between ERC and Junts and the debate on leaving the Catalan government, Turull stated that he understands Trias "perfectly". "This situation doesn't make me happy. That's why I've put all my best into trying to solve it. I don't want to focus on finding culprits. I want solutions," he said.