The electoral expectations in Junts for the municipal elections in May have little to do with the horizon that was seen last autumn in the formation, after the departure of the Government of the Generalitat.
The effect of the candidacy of Xavier Trias in Barcelona – the convergent former mayor leads several polls – and the direction that he impregnates the formation have encouraged the party cadres beyond the Catalan capital.
But equally or more important in this new state of mind is the recovery of assets that it lost in the summer of 2020 in the divorce between PDECat and Waterloo. Some leaders who in their day got out of this battle, such as former president Artur Mas, have returned to the front. And like him, relevant mayors who in this legislature have governed under the banner of PDECat and in May will do so under the orbit of Junts, which has proposed a full-fledged takeover bid to his former travel companions.
But he always asked for unity in the post-convergent space and did not join Carles Puigdemont's formation at first. But now he has presented some of the JxCat candidates and accompanied the general secretary, Jordi Turull, at various events, as happened last week in Avinyonet del Penedès or two weeks ago in Vilassar de Mar.
The formation of Turull and Laura Borràs has sealed agreements with some mayors who did not join the new party and remained in the PDECat awaiting events – the result of the last elections to Parliament, in which the two post-convergent forces clashed at the polls for the first time. Some of the most significant cases are that of Marc Castells (Igualada), Jordi Masquef (Figueres) and Xavier Fonollosa (Martorell). They could be joined by the mayoress of Tortosa, Meritxell Roigé, or that of Gandesa, Carles Luz, with whom there are ongoing negotiations.
There are also pacts with municipalist formations such as Impulsem Lleida and Impulsem Penedès, which bring together local leaders from the convergent orbit who were left in no man's land in the divorce; and with other local brands in places like Sant Pol de Mar or La Bisbal d'Empordà.
After the rupture of the Government was consummated in October, it was feared that some of those local leaders who were undecided would approach Esquerra, which has tested the terrain of the PDECat orbit in some cases. But the agreements sealed in this first quarter of the year have removed that possibility.
And there is yet another casuistry in the JxCat municipalist takeover bid: the replacement of veteran PDECat mayors who will not repeat their candidacy with an orderly succession in which the support falls on the Junts project, as is the case in Reus with Carles Pellicer, who has shown their support for Teresa Pallarés, or in Puigcerdà with Albert Piñeira and in Vilafranca del Penedès with Pere Regull.
Different formulas that, in short, have made it possible to partially recompose the atomized post-convergent space. "Recoser" is the word they repeat over and over again in the direction of JxCat, which has focused all the efforts of the party on that appointment with the polls. "Without municipal roots, you cannot resist," says a leader, who gives the current situation of Ciudadanos as an example.
Junts launched a hostile takeover bid for PDECat, at the time when Jordi Sànchez was Secretary General, and has emerged stronger from that process. One of the messages that they repeated in JxCat in the weeks after the 2021 elections was that they would have been ahead of ERC if they had had the more than 70,000 votes –or at least a part of them– that Àngels Chacón garnered, now out of politics. The line that Sànchez marked, no coalition with the PDECat and specific agreements with the mayors who did not join Junts in their day, is the one that Turull maintains. In fact, David Saldoni has been in charge of municipal politics with both leaders.
In that fight, the PDECat has resisted in Mollerussa, with Marc Solsona as mayor - he is the deputy general secretary of the formation and one of its visible faces after the departure of Chacón -, in Lloret and in Gironella. And in Salou and Reus he will present a list headed by members of the municipal government.
The formula of the party chaired by David Bonvehí is to compete in coalition with Ara Catalunya - a municipalist brand that has representation in some municipalities of Tarragona -, a pact to which Centrem has adhered, the formation that emerged from the PDECat entente, Convergents, Lliures and the Democratic League at the beginning of 2022, a project that has been in hibernation phase after the resignation of Chacón last summer.
Ara Pacte Local has prepared candidacies in more than 170 municipalities and aspires to do so in more than 250. In JxCat, for its part, they set themselves the goal of presenting more than 800 candidacies on May 28, and they already have more than 600.
The case of Barcelona is unique. Junts and PDECat are negotiating so that there are not two candidacies, so that Trias has no rival in the post-convergent space. The talks were to be settled at the end of January or the beginning of February, but they are still open and various aspects are being addressed outside the electoral list, which Joana Ortega, former vice president of the Government with Mas, could join as an independent.