Junqueras is applying to continue leading Esquerra in the opposition

There will be a change of leadership on the Left, but perhaps not of all leadership.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 May 2024 Wednesday 05:03
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Junqueras is applying to continue leading Esquerra in the opposition

There will be a change of leadership on the Left, but perhaps not of all leadership. Oriol Junqueras sent a letter yesterday to the militancy and the public to apply to continue commanding the party. A step that goes in a different direction from that of Pere Aragonès, who on Monday made public a decision he had taken the day before: to leave the first political line and resign from the seat, but to remain as national coordinator to help in the reorganization of ERC only until the relays occur.

The ERC president's decision also comes after Aragonès, in the middle of the election night, demanded that the party take on "individual" but also "collective" responsibilities. Losing thirteen deputies on May 12 to go from 33 to 20 seats in Parliament gave him more than enough reason to claim these responsibilities.

"I see myself with the heart and strength to continue working for our country. And do it, as always, from the place that determines ERC's militancy, through the highest sovereign bodies of the party that correspond", writes Junqueras. With these words, he shows the will to be validated by the grassroots to continue at the top, but at the same time he implies that the whole process will culminate in a national congress that the party will list for the autumn at the earliest. There is time for more candidates to apply to lead the ERC project.

Junqueras assumes that it is necessary to open "a new stage" and consider "what has not gone well". But he also points out that "it is up to other protagonists to take the steps they deem appropriate to guarantee the stability and governability of the country". A statement with which the leader of ERC, like Aragonès, tries to take all the pressure off the Esquerra regarding the calls to ally with the PSC and Junts so that either Salvador Illa or Carles Puigdemont is invested. The Republicans want to make it clear that if there is a repeat election it will not be their fault.

The president of Esquerra also remarks that his party will now be "the opposition at the service of the country". "From today, we stand as the alternative, firm and demanding, against those who want Catalonia to be the seventeenth autonomous community that is told what to do", he underlines in the letter.

There is also self-criticism in the text: "The public has given us a clear message. He has not trusted us, or our proposals, or our way of doing things or of explaining ourselves". "We understood the message", he says immediately, but without making any reference to the questioning of leadership.

The internal debate in the formation will be long. By standing aside, Aragonès tried to avoid the rum-rum of a possible uncontrolled implosion in his party. In addition, it frees up ERC for the European elections on June 9 and allows the Republicans to start the engines of the entire renewal process until well after the elections, possibly until October or November.

Junqueras wants to remain in charge, but is also looking to be a candidate in the next Catalan elections. They will arrive when they arrive, except in the event of a repeat election, since most likely, despite the approval in Congress, the amnesty will not be effective, yet. It should be borne in mind that Junqueras, since he was appointed president of ERC in 2011, has only effectively run for the presidency of the Generalitat in the 2012 elections. Also in 2017, but while in prison and without options to be appointed. Neither in the 2015, 2021, nor in the 2024 elections has he appeared as a candidate for the presidency.

For now, it is an unknown to know what support the ERC militancy can give to Junqueras. The results of last Sunday's elections – third and far behind the PSC and Junts – do not play in his favor, despite not being listed as a candidate. Nor does it matter that his name continues to be present with a shaken pretense in the party.

Oriol Junqueras and Pere Aragonès have already spoken. It remains to be seen what Marta Rovira, general secretary of the party, will do. In his party, they point out that his decision could be closer to that taken by the president of the Generalitat.

If Rovira were to leave it, it would end a tandem that has lasted since 2011. In any case, in the letter Junqueras has words of praise for Aragonès - "he honors his gesture of leaving the first political line" -, but a once this step has been taken, the president of the party encourages his members to recover from the electoral blow and urges them "that in these next European elections militancy take a step forward, a step of self-love, a step to defend the future of Catalonia in Europe. To defend our farming, which is at stake in Europe, to fight against climate change and to strengthen the peoples within the European federal framework in the face of obsolete nation states".