King ushers in new era of Catalan politics
17 December 2003
MADRID – The King of Spain received the new president of Catalonia Wednesday, ushering in a new era in the region’s politics.
Catalan president Ernest Benach met King Juan Carlos who formally accepted the new head of the Catalan parliament, Pascual Maragal.
It marked the end of 23 years of power for the right-wing nationalist CiU party headed by the elder statesman of Catalan politics Jordi Pujol.
Pujol was forced out of power after three parties formed a pact earlier in December.
The three-party coalition is made up of the socialist PSC, the republican nationalist ERC and the green-left-wing republicans (ICV-EuiA).
Benach, who is an independent left-wing republican, is a figurehead figure, but Maragall – a socialist from the PSC party – will effectively hold the reigns of power with Josep Carod, head of the ERC party.
Catalonia, like a number of other ‘autonomous provinces’ in Spain, has its own parliament with a head of state and independent powers.
But they are all ultimately answerable to the King of Spain, who is the formal head of the Spanish state, and Madrid.
After speaking to the King at the royal palace in Madrid Wednesday, Benach described the meeting as “peaceful and cordial”.
He said the King was interested in knowing about a debate held Tuesday in the Catalan parliament and the general feeling in Catalonia about the change in government after 23 years of majority CiU ruling.
Although Benach is a self-proclaimed left-wing, independent-minded republican, he stressed that his formal meeting with the King had no political undertones.
He said he was fulfilling one of his duties as president of the Catalan Parliament.
Benach said he also spoke with the King about the hectic political schedule, the municipal and autonomous elections, the general elections next March and European elections in June.
He said the new government will work right through the Christmas holidays and try to plan its first meeting before 31 December.
Benach’s official meeting with the King will lead to Maragall’s appointment as president of the Catalan parliament and he will be sworn in on 20 December.
[copyright EFE with Expatica]
subject: Spanish news