Sumar’s spokesperson, Ernest Urtasun, will be the new Minister of Culture, representing En Comú Podem, after spending the bulk of his political career in the European Parliament and being one of the fundamental cadres of the coalition led by Yolanda Díaz.
Urtasun will be Sánchez’s fifth Minister of Culture in five years and succeeds Máximo Huerta, who was in office for seven days; the late José Guirao; José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes and Miquel Iceta.
With their election, the ‘commons’ will once again have a portfolio in the Executive but with a figure with greater political weight, given that in the past they were more academic profiles such as former ministers Manuel Castells and Joan Subirats.
Furthermore, as an MEP the new minister was very critical of bullfighting, as in an interview in 2016 in ‘eldiario.es’, in which he assured that bullfighting could never be considered culture.
Born in Barcelona in 1982, Urtasun has a degree in Economics from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and has also been a career diplomat since 2010, serving, for example, as advisor to the secretary general of the Union for the Mediterranean before requesting a leave of absence to focus on his political career. .
HIS FIRST YEARS IN ICV UNTIL LANDING IN THE PE
The new minister began his political career early, influenced by his parents’ activism in the former PSUC, when at the age of 16 he joined the ICV youth, a formation that combines progressive postulates and a strong environmentalist impulse.
In keeping with that tradition, Urtasun was a spokesperson for the Young European Greens and a member of the Bureau of the European Youth Forum, representing that organization at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009.
His political career linked to ICV continued by running on its lists for the Barcelona municipal elections in 2003 and 2007, as well as in the 2004 candidacy for the European elections led by the former leader of this formation Raül Romeva, who later joined ERC. and he was one of the leaders convicted and later pardoned by the ‘procés’.
Urtasun began to be linked to community politics by being an advisor to Romeva during his time as an MEP (2004-2008) and was key for IVC to formalize its entry into the European Green Party.
After focusing on his diplomatic career, Urtasun returned to the political arena in the 2014 European elections as number three on the list of the Plural Left, a coalition led by IU and which also competed with an incipient Podemos championed by its former leader Pablo Iglesias.
In that electoral event Urtasun obtained a seat in the European Parliament and began to be one of the relevant positions of the ‘commons’, which together with Ada Colau forged an alliance with Podemos and the rest of the left that was obtained by the Barcelona City Council. And with the help of Unidas Podemos he returned to repeat his seat in Brussels, choosing from the beginning to join the Los Verdes / Ale group, where he was appointed vice president.
Already in 2019, with the first coalition government, his name was in the pools to be a minister but he continued his career in Brussels, although with the new leadership of Díaz in the space to the left of the PSOE and the push for his new project to reconfigure the alternative left to the PSOE, his figure was gaining ascendancy in the hard core of Díaz.
IN FAVOR OF AMNESTY AND ‘GREEN’ REFERENT
The commons, fully aligned with Díaz’s strategy and with several of its members in the team closest to Díaz (such as his chief of staff Josep Vendrell), Urtasun was gaining presence in the construction of Sumar, where he also contributed his extensive knowledge of international relations and the functioning of Brussels, one of the main axes in Díaz’s project that advocates strengthening Europeanism.
This promotion was reflected during the electoral campaign when he was appointed Sumar’s spokesperson, a function that he has been carrying out to be the face that establishes Sumar’s position on current political events.
For example, and together with his colleague in the Catalan confluence Jaume Asens, the new minister has been a prominent voice when it comes to defending the future Amnesty Law, convinced that the measure will deepen the solution to the Catalan conflict.
Also during the electoral contest he focused on some of the main proposals regarding the fight against climate change, such as the reduction of domestic flights that have an alternative of three less than three hours. What’s more, with the work of Urtasun, Díaz and Sumar have strengthened ties with the Greens at the European level.
Urtasun will have to face several pending challenges in the previous legislature, such as the Cinema or Patronage Law, and others recently announced such as the Cultural Rights Law, of which it is only known that it will seek to “guarantee access for all people and all territories to culture”.
In the audiovisual field, a long-awaited Cinema Law is pending for the sector, especially after the approval of the Audiovisual Law in the last legislature, which sparked criticism from independent producers, understanding that more power was given to production companies from the chains.
Another open front is the now traditional commitment to a Patronage Law (which has never been completed). During the last legislature, Parliament began to process a bill that did not see the light of day due to the dissolution of the Cortes.
The text incorporated the provision of services as a new collaboration mechanism with NGOs, allows a compensation of a maximum of 25,000 euros, and increases the deduction percentages, modifying the rule that has been in force for 21 years.
It also included a socialist amendment, which Podemos opposed, to fiscally equate confessions with well-known roots in Spain with those that have agreements with the Government, so they would also be exempt from paying the IBI on buildings intended for cult and corporate tax.
The rule also encouraged micro-patronage and the deduction percentages were increased. As regards individuals, it was raised by 100 euros, going from 150 to 250 euros, the basis on which 80% of the donation could be deducted from personal income tax. In the case of legal entities, deductions in Corporate Tax go from 35 to 40%.
THE ROYAL THEATER, WITHOUT ITS “PARTICULAR” LAW
Also pending was the Law that regulates and “equates” the Teatro Real Foundation with other “large institutions” in Spain, such as the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum or the National Library of Spain (BNE), to improve the management of the Madrid Coliseum.
Beyond these legislative ‘stoppages’, some pending promises from past legislatures remain in the air, such as the reform of the INAEM.
Likewise, the incorporation of more personnel to the museums is missing – after the closure of some rooms as a result of the lack of guards, Iceta allocated 10 million more euros in personnel allocations for the hiring of 600 new officials. However, in the last year there have been reopenings of spaces that were closed, the last in September with the reopening of the entire second floor of the Archaeological Museum and the replica of the Altamira Cave.
Additionally, the coalition agreement between PSOE and Sumar is committed to maintaining the cultural bonus in the legislature after two editions in progress and to reinforcing freedom of expression in the cultural sector. There is also progress in the legislative agenda of the Artist Statute and the development of a Public Digital Infrastructure Plan.