“It hasn’t been pretty, but it was absolutely necessary.” This is how Clemente Sánchez Garnica, the new president of the Aragonese Party (PAR), explains the motion of no confidence that on Friday put an end to the leadership of Arturo Aliaga at the head of this formation for the last eight years. In an Executive that lasted 20 minutes, 16 of its 28 members ―known as the wayward sector― voted in favor. The other 12, including Aliaga himself, did not want to be present at the Aragonese headquarters.
Behind this deep crisis in the PAR there is a sentence, from November last year, that annulled the Congress of this formation held in October 2021, in which Aliaga was re-elected president. The judicial process was opened by the militant Xavier de Pedro, who supported Elena Allué in that appointment. The candidate herself lost to Aliaga by 20 votes. Investigating Court number 18 of Zaragoza agreed with De Pedro because there were irregularities in the census of PAR members.
From that moment on, a deep gap opened up in the Executive. Arturo Aliaga wanted to comply with the sentence, call a new congress and reach the May elections with a “clean” party. But the majority of the Executive considered that it was necessary to appeal, because the party could not be “blocked” and pending a judicial decision that endangered the preparation of the candidacies for the appointment with the polls.
In the last three months, since the sentence was known, the tension in the PAR has been maximum and has transferred to the Aragonese institutions. On January 18, the president of the Teruel Provincial Council, the socialist Manuel Rando, dismissed Alberto Izquierdo as vice president, at the request of Aliaga. The reason? The Executive of the PAR, of which Izquierdo is general secretary, went to court days before ―against Aliaga’s criteria― to appeal the sentence that Congress annulled.
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The straw that broke the camel’s back was that the wayward sector demanded that Aliaga at the end of January convene an Executive to reinstate Alberto Izquierdo in the Turolense Provincial Council and to call primary elections on February 25, with the aim of having candidates and draw up the lists for the elections. Aliaga did not want to set a date and when he refused, Izquierdo, as general secretary, called the meeting on Thursday, which ended Aliaga’s presidency.
The former president of the PAR did not want to make any statements last night, but in a press release he pointed out that those who say that he has remained in a “castle” position “are lying”. Aliaga affirms that he has tried to “reach an agreement, but it has been impossible”, and adds that his only objective is to comply with the sentence, “because only in this way can a strong Aragonese Party be built”.
The pact with the PSOE in Aragon is not in danger
Clemente Sánchez Garnica, the new president of the PAR, wanted to make it clear on Friday that what is happening is “a party problem, not an institutional one.” He stated that they will continue to support Arturo Aliaga as vice president of Aragon in the quadripartite government together with PSOE, Podemos and Chunta Aragonesista (CHA) chaired by Javier Lambán. Sánchez Garnica hopes that Aliaga “respects the decision made by the Executive” and extends his hand to continue working on the game
But there are many open unknowns. Regarding the judicial route, the Provincial Court of Zaragoza could rule in a few days on the sentence that the Congress of this party annulled, because Xavier de Pedro has requested that it be executed and has shown his opposition -and also the prosecutor- to the appeal that he has presented the PAR against the sentence. Sánchez Garnica said on Friday that, if the Court confirms the sentence, they will appeal “before the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and even Strasbourg if necessary, because mere formal irregularities cannot paralyze the life of a party.”
Political consequences are also expected. Sánchez Garnica pointed out that the PAR is going to ask that Izquierdo become vice president of the Teruel Provincial Council again, but Aliaga has a lot of weight in that decision, due to the agreement he signed with Lambán in 2019. And there are three general directors of the PAR, of the Ministry of Industry directed by Aliaga, who voted in favor of the motion of no confidence in the Executive meeting on Friday.
Their dismissals have been flying over for days, although so far they have not occurred. And all of them, wayward and pro-government supporters, are very concerned about the result of the May elections. The PAR has been in almost all the governments of Aragon, as a partner of the PSOE and the PP. José Ángel Biel, who was president of the PAR from 2000 to 2015, said that they were the “nail of the fan”, because they could be opened to the right and left. And that is what they are playing now.
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