Catalonia decides today at the polls whether to undertake a change of course

Catalonia decides its future at the polls today in a political context very different from that of the 2021 elections.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 May 2024 Saturday 22:21
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Catalonia decides today at the polls whether to undertake a change of course

Catalonia decides its future at the polls today in a political context very different from that of the 2021 elections. The advance of the electoral call on March 13 as a consequence of the impossibility of the Government of Pere Aragonès to carry out the budgets for this year gave start of a campaign in which independence has ceased to be a nuclear issue for all parties, including those in favor of independence, and in which the Amnesty law, which will be approved this month in Congress, has not had any prominence . Not even the parties that oppose frontally and with strong words to penal oblivion in Madrid have made this matter a casus belli. Contrast the situation in the Upper House, with bitter debates in the amnesty committees, with the few references to it throughout the campaign.

The parties play their role today in post-procés Catalonia. According to the polls, the socialist Salvador Illa could win but find himself in the situation of not being able to form a Government, as in 2021, while the pro-independence parties could lose their absolute majority, something that would be unprecedented in Catalan politics and that would consolidate the change. direction of Catalan society, more concerned with “eating things.”

In recent days there has been a polarization between PSC and Junts. The former president and candidate of the post-convergent formation, Carles Puigdemont, has campaigned from the south of France. He has not had time to make the electoral race that he would have wanted, but that has not been an obstacle to filling, day in and day out, buses that were heading towards his rallies in Argelers.

It is more difficult for President Pere Aragonès to reissue the 2021 results when he almost tied with the Socialists and was slightly above Junts. For ERC it is essential to overcome Junts, something that no survey predicts. The Republicans have not known how to take advantage of the management work in the Generalitat, but they may still have the key to governability. Everything will depend on the difference in votes that separates Illa and Puigdemont, whom polls place first and second on the electoral podium.

In the history of the results of the Catalan elections, the socialists have been able to govern when ERC has decided to give them support. This is what happened with Pasqual Maragall and José Montilla. Will the same happen this time? Without results in hand, it is difficult to unravel what the possible agreements will be like. Aragonès did not want to get involved in whether he ruled out Illa or Puigdemont and preferred to link the subsequent agreements to the acceptance of his main proposals. But, if necessary, he will have to make a decision, one way or another. If we do not do so, the situation of blockade will be inevitable and the possibility of a repeat election, a reality.

Also at the bottom of the table there is a fight for survival. The polls assume that Ciudadanos will not enter Parliament and point to a strong rise for the PP, which could rise to fourth place in parliamentary representation. To do this, it must surpass Vox and it is not clear that this can happen. The competition between right-wing parties for the same political space has been another of the particularities of this campaign.

The very probable emergence of Aliança Catalana on the scene cannot be ignored. If it enters the Parliament, Catalonia, always innovating, would have the presence in its legislative chamber of two far-right parties. This week, PSC, ERC, Junts, Comuns and the CUP have signed an agreement by which they committed not to sign alliances either with Vox or with the party led by the mayor of Ripoll, Sílvia Orriols.

It can be said that this was a calm campaign, without tension and, perhaps for this reason, many citizens accustomed to the ups and downs of Catalan politics may have found it strange, even boring. The race started one day before Pedro Sanchez threatened with a letter of resignation and for five days the campaign remained in suspense, more attentive to what was happening in Madrid than to what the candidates said at their rallies.

These elections are being played in Catalonia, but also in Madrid, as an appetizer for the European elections on June 9. Hence, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, Pedro Sánchez or Santiago Abascal have been very present throughout these last 15 days. The President of the Government has linked his future – that of 9-J – to Illa and, although this may make it difficult to reach an understanding with Junts or ERC in Congress, he has prioritized the promotion of a victory in Catalonia with the European victories in mind. For its part, the PP needs stability and growth in Catalonia if it wants to reach the Moncloa. The general elections of July 23 of last year made it clear that the popular parties have a difficult time reaching the central government if they continue to have such a secondary role in the Basque Country or Catalonia.

Catalonia has experienced a campaign with many unknowns and tonight some, not all, will be cleared up. There are still long and difficult post-electoral alliance negotiations ahead.