Pro-independence group's former leader elected new president of Catalan Parliament

Carme Forcadell to preside over first ever Catalan legislature to have a pro-independence absolute majority · JxSí, CUP negotiate deal on launching constitution-making process leading to independent Catalan state

Carme Forcadell.
Carme Forcadell. Author: ANC
Carme Forcadell was today elected new president of the Parliament of Catalonia in the constitutive session of the chamber's eleventh term since the end of the Francoist dictatorship. This will be the first time ever that the Catalan Parliament has an explicitly pro-independence majority (72 of 135 MPs). According to plans by pro-independence parties Together for Yes (JxSí, big tent) and CUP (anti-capitalist), an independent Catalan state should be declared within this term.

Forcadell (Xerta, Catalonia, 1956) was the candidate proposed by JxSí to preside over the Catalan Parliament. A linguist by profession, Forcadell was town councillor in Catalonia's Sabadell from 2003 to 2007. In 2012 she was elected the president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the main Catalan civil society group calling for independence from Spain. In 2015 Forcadell was replaced as ANC president by Jordi Sànchez.

JxSí is an alliance made up of main pro-independence parties Democratic Convergence (CDC), Republican Left (ERC) plus other minor parties and independents. In the 27th September Catalan Parliament election, JxSí emerged as the largest party, with 62 out of 135 seats.

Forcadell received the votes from 77 MPs, which include 62 MPs from JxSí, 10 MPs from CUP and 5 MPs from Catalonia Yes We Can (CSQEP), an alliance holding and ambiguous stance on independence. Another 57 MPs cast blank votes except for one MP who cast an invalid vote.

The new Parliament's Bureau will have, like the Parliament itself, a pro-independence absolute majority, given that 4 of its 7 seats will be held by JxSí members. The other 3 seats will be one each for Citizens' Party (C's, unionist), the Socialist Party (PSC, federalist unionist) and CSQEP. Neither the Popular Party (unionist) nor CUP will hold any seats in the Bureau.

New president's investiture can wait until January 9th

The Parliament now needs to vote on November 9th on who should be the next president of the Catalan government. JxSí says current president Artur Mas should receive a new term. CUP argues another leader should be picked instead, despite the fact that the anti-capitalist party concedes that Mas could continue to have a role in the next government.

Mas needs an absolute majority of votes from MPs (first vote) or a relative majority (second vote) before November 14th in order to be elected. If he does not have it, further investiture votes can be held until January 9th at the latest. If JxSí and CUP do not agree on Mas's -or someone else's- presidency by then, a snap election will then be called.

Both CUP and JxSí say they do not wish another election to be held in early 2016, and sources from both parties argue they are confident that an agreement will be reached.

Resolution on the start of constitution-making process towards a Catalan state

Even if a new president is not elected by now, the Catalan Parliament will regularly convene. One of the most crucial plenary sessions could be the first one, which could take place between 2nd and 6th November. On that day, JxSí and CUP are planning to pass a resolution announcing that Catalonia launches a constitution-making process towards the establishment of a Catalan independent state. According to Catalan newspaper Ara, both parties have agreed on the formula "Catalan independent state in the form of a republic" to describe what kind of government Catalonia should have.

Keywords: Catalan process, Catalonia, Spain