Francina Armengol, a federalist to tempt Puigdemont

"The Catalan question is a political problem and it has to be resolved from politics.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
16 August 2023 Wednesday 10:21
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Francina Armengol, a federalist to tempt Puigdemont

"The Catalan question is a political problem and it has to be resolved from politics." Francina Armengol (Inca, 1971) said it in September 2021, after the arrest of Carles Puigdemont in Sardinia in 2021. Today she is Pedro Sánchez's candidate for the Presidency of Congress and her election is subject, precisely, to what Puigdemont decides. , with whom he had good relations when both were presidents of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

More than a candidate for the Presidency of Congress, Armengol is Pedro Sánchez's nod to Catalan sovereignty to achieve the first victory of this legislature against Alberto Núñez Feijóo. The Armengol piece fits into the puzzle at the beginning of this legislature: at all times she has defended that a political solution must be sought for the Catalan question even when this option caused convulsions and cold sweats in other socialist barons.

Armengol has always been by Pedro Sánchez's side since the fateful Federal Committee that marked the fall of the leader, with a fleeting support for Patxi López when it seemed that Sánchez would not win. She was one of the staunchest defenders of the 'no is no' and the deputies from the Balearic Islands in Congress were among the few who did not abstain and voted against Mariano Rajoy in that session. She has been a loyal collaborator and now she receives the Sanchez award for that loyalty.

The former Balearic president began in politics in 1998, as a socialist councilor in her town, Inca, of which her father had already been mayor, but her youthful beginnings were closer to sovereignism and that original idea continues to permeate an openly federalist political ideology.

He has had a long-standing political career, in which he has held numerous institutional positions on the islands, but his greatest success, pending what happens this Thursday in Congress, coincided with the greatest failure of the Socialists in the Balearic Islands. In 2015 the PSOE got the worst results in its history in regional elections and, even so, Francina Armengol became the first woman to be president of the Balearic Islands. That triumph, which was derived from a defeat, is due to her negotiating ability and to concoct pacts even in adverse conditions, something that can be very useful to her if she manages to be elected. Despite that ability to compromise, she is a firm and tough woman, a tough and difficult political rival.

The laws that were approved in that first term, with a Més government and external support from Podemos, portray the current candidate very well: she repealed the Law of Symbols, approved by José Ramón Bauzá to prevent the installation of Catalan ties and flags in Public Buildings; she annulled the educational law of her predecessor that introduced trilingualism and put Catalan in a corner; the obligation to know Catalan to access the Administration returned to the Public Function, which had remained a simple merit; it approved the first Balearic Islands Law on Graves and returned universal healthcare to immigrants, among other measures.

The second term was complicated by the pandemic and by the economic collapse of the islands, which forced him to extend the pacts to the business and union sectors, and in these years attempts began to be drawn to bet on tourist decrease policies that with the Govern of the PP will no longer apply.

In this second term he lived what has probably been the most bitter moment of his political career, which continues to haunt him no matter how much he tries not to talk about it. There was no longer any confinement, but Armengol abandoned a bar in the center of Palma at closing time after a dinner with collaborators, when the Government encouraged citizens to go out just enough to moderate their social life. This episode forced him to apologize to the citizens and was used profusely by the PP in its attacks on the president.

Despite the fact that the mandate was difficult, the Balearic PSOE aspired to reissue the pact, but the victory of Marga Prohens, whom it has regarded with disdain, together with the collapse of Podemos left the left-wing parties with no options of forging a third covenant. The Balearic socialists were shocked because they did not expect such a massive institutional defeat and it was then that the former president decided to head the list to Congress.

Once again, a defeat could end up being a success for Armengol if today he wins more votes than his rival, Cuca Gamarra, and becomes the second Mallorcan to preside over Congress, after Félix Pons. It will depend on Puigdemont, who may be the one who finally decides which profile he chooses, whether Armengol or Gamarra, and for how long: for a few months or for a legislature.