the former president Carles Puigdemont He will not continue as president of Junts per Catalunya, the party that he himself founded in 2020, leaving behind the PDeCAT and followed by the majority of leaders of the old post-convergence space. In a letter sent to the bases this Tuesday, Puigdemont affirms that “it is necessary for the party to have a new presidency, to participate in the executive meetings, to participate fully in the political decisions that have to be adopted.”
Exile has marked his presidency, which he has held since August 2020
The decision will be formalized in the Congress that the party will hold next June 4 in Argelers, in northern Catalonia. The announcement has not come as a surprise, since this option had been on the table for months. Puigdemont’s goodbye is added to that of jordi sanchez, the current secretary general, who already announced at the beginning of April that he would not stand for re-election. Not without a tough internal struggle and multiple controversies about the dynamics and decisions imposed by Sànchez on the party. Puigdemont’s decision now paves the way to articulate a tandem of the president of the Parliament, Laura Borrasand the former minister and former political prisoner Jordi Turull, while avoiding a new internal confrontation, this time to run for the general secretary. A position that if the forecasts are confirmed, Turull would occupy while Borràs would opt for the presidency.
Exile has marked Puigdemont’s presidency. he holds it from August 2020, a few weeks after the founding congress was held virtually due to the pandemic. No one doubts that Puigdemont will continue to be the emblematic leader of the party, which he founded in the framework of the restructuring that the pro-independence world -and especially the convergent space- has experienced since to 1-O and the repression that was derived from it, still in force.
The distance of exile and the difficulties for management from Brussels are some of the reasons he alleges for not running for re-election, as well as other factors that he also makes more subtly clear in the letter, such as his involvement as president of the Council for the Republic (CxR). “For some time now I have come to the conclusion that the party needs a more involved presidency than I have been; this was, in fact, my commitment and I have to thank the respect that everyone has had and that It has allowed me to maintain the strategy that we have carried out since exile and that is not, nor should it be, that of any party in particular”.
Leaving the presidency allows him to fully focus on the Consell per la República
Relinquishing the presidency of the party thus allows him to fully focus on presiding the CxR and avoid criticism of partisanship, consolidating his role as an independent figure. It also allows you to focus on the final stretch of the legal disputes in Europethat the independence movement hopes to win and that would pave the way for a hypothetical return of the former president to Catalonia.
Puigdemont was re-elected president of the Consell at the beginning of March for another two years. This organization, which more than a party or movement has the vocation of an institution, created the October 30, 2018 within the framework of the investiture agreement of the president Quim Torra and is based at the House of the Republic, in Waterloo, residence of the former president. It was formed to give continuity to the Government dismissed by the application of article 155 months before, although, in practice, only exiles were involved in it, with Puigdemont at the helm as provisional president.
ERC and the CUP practically ignored each other from the beginning and JxCat is the party that maintains the most presence, but Puigdemont’s decision to leave the party wants to make it move towards a party independence to which he himself has referred on several occasions. In his re-election speech, the former president pointed out that “they have political parties” but also warned that they will be “demanding” with them. “We cannot wait for the consensus of the parties because it is not possible. They are essential to achieve independence, but we must take the initiative from the Consell”.
It is in this context that Puigdemont, leaving the presidency of Junts, hopes to consolidate his leadership at the head of the CxR as a person without party positions. In practice, however, the CxR Puigdemont government has surrounded itself with names like Toni Comin and Lluis Puigthe singer-songwriter Lluis Llach and other political figures such as deputies Toni Castellà and Aurora Madaulaall coming from the same JxCat environment.
The issue of new leadership
The other question that has marked his farewell and that becomes fundamental for the Congress in June is who will choose to assume both leaderships, both the presidency as the secretary general. When Sànchez announced that he would not renew as general secretary, it was already put on the table that the two figures with the most leadership options were, on the one hand, the former minister and former political prisoner Jordi Turulland on the other, the President of Parliament, Laura Borras. The move to the side of Puigdemont seems to leave the way clear for the articulation of a joint candidacy -as Sànchez demanded- of both, making a tandem in both positions.
Puigdemont assures that he will support “from the outset” whoever assumes the leadership
Although neither of the two has publicly confirmed their candidacy for the position or that they want to articulate a joint candidacy, they are the people who accumulate the greatest projection and support both among their comrades in the ranks and from the bases and their environments indicate this. In the letter, Puigdemont encourages the people of the party with a “demonstrated leadership ability” to apply, and assures that they will have his support “from the outset”. However, he does not specify what would happen if there were more than one candidacy.
The unknown that Puigdemont does not resolve for now is whether with his decision he renounces to stand again in the elections. It seems so, at least in what refers to the Catalan and the state, although it seems unlikely that it will also do so with the European ones. In the last Catalan elections, on February 14, 2021, he headed the list for Barcelona, although he was a symbolic candidate, since he himself had stated that he would not abandon his status as MEP and, therefore, would not collect the act of deputy in the Parlament. The real and presidential candidate was Laura Borras.
Jordi Turull and Laura Borràs, two opposite sectors
The two politicians who appear to be opting to lead the party are from opposing sectors within the formation, so combining both leaderships would be an option to avoid further widening the internal fracture within JxCat. The tensions between the different sectors of the formation have been a constant since its creation, also causing erosion in the relationship with ERC within the Govern.
Turull is a party man, while Borràs entered politics in 2017 as an independent
Turull belongs to pragmatic sector of the party, where most of the leaders of the old convergence are included. A lifelong party man, Turull is clearly in favor of participating in the Government and even held talks with ERC in his day -during the most difficult moments of the negotiation to form the current government- to try to unblock the issue by offering himself as an interlocutor.
The former Minister of the Presidency during 1-O is militant since 1983 in the former CDC, first in the youth and then in training as such. In 2010 he was appointed spokesman for the group in Parliament and in 2013 he began to preside over it. With a liberal profile, in addition to being a minister, he was spokesman for the Government of Puigdemont in the last months of the legislature, before the application of 155. He is currently one of the four vice presidents of the party.
Unlike Turull, Borràs entered politics in 2017 as an independent, which places her in a very distant profile. She came from the academic world, she chaired the Institution of Catalan Letters (2013-2017) before making the leap into politics on the JxCat charts as a freelancer. In the current legislature, she was much more reluctant to the Government’s agreement, to the point that she refused to take part and assume its vice-presidency, ending up in the presidency of Parliament. Within the party, she occupies the secretariat for Rights and Freedoms.
The combination of both profiles could unite the two party souls and contribute to a greater coordination within training, especially in relation to relations with its government partner, ERC. Although it seems that leaving the Generalitat is not on the table for now, the internal reconfiguration of Junts does predict changes in the Executive for the fall to place figures close to the new management.