Rajoy is gone: how did Catalan parties react?

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Only days after Mariano Rajoy was ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote, the former Spanish president on Tuesday brought his 30-year political career to an end by also resigning as leader of the People’s Party (PP). The head of the Catalan wing of the party, Xavier García Albiol, reacted by claiming that Rajoy “did not deserve to leave in this way,” and went on to call him “one of the most honorable presidents that Spain has ever had.”

Yet, Albiol was in a minority among politicians in Catalonia. Most other political parties reacted with satisfaction to the news that Rajoy is bowing out of politics. The spokeswoman for JxCat, the main pro-independence party, directly addressed the former PP head with the simple phrase: “So long, Mr Rajoy.” According to Gemma Geis, Rajoy “had harmed Catalans, both supporters and non-supporters of independence, all these years.”

It was a position shared by JxCat’s main ally, the pro-independence Esquerra party (ERC). Spokeswoman Anna Caula said the party was satisfied to see Rajoy go and she referred back to the slogan ERC used in its last election campaign: “Democracy always wins.” Referring to Rajoy’s downfall after his party was convicted for fraud offenses, Caula added “in any other European democracy things would never have gone so far.”

As for the other pro-independence party in the Catalan chamber, CUP, party spokesman Carles Riera celebrated the news of Rajoy’s resignation: “Rest in peace, as far as it’s possible,” was his message to the former PP head. However, Riera regretted that Rajoy was retiring without having to explain the corruption in his party, “the most corrupt in Europe,” according to the CUP spokesman. 

Corruption in Rajoy’s party was also the main concern of the spokeswoman for the CatECP party, Elisenda Alamany, who celebrated “having expelled the PP mafia.” Talking for the party that aligns with neither the pro-independence or unionist camps in the Catalan Parliament, Alamany said of Rajoy: “We have said farewell to a Spanish president summoned to testify in a corruption case, and who was blind and deaf to Catalan demands.”

The main unionist party in the chamber, Ciutadans, also criticized the ousted Spanish president. “Rajoy has resigned late and in a bad way, he has preferred that Sánchez governs with populists and pro-independence parties, instead of giving the voice to Spaniards.”