It is possible that Oriol Junqueras has been under suspicion from the first minute of his entry into prison. His arrest put before the mirror of harsh reality just over two million Catalans (out of an electoral census of five and a half million) who in the fall of 2017 had dreamed that the independence of Catalonia was possible. And that dream ceased to exist if its promoters ended up resignedly behind bars. Without forgetting the poisonous question that Junqueras's adversaries began to slip into effective word-of-mouth: what price would the ERC leader be willing to pay to regain his freedom?
Therefore, only the escape from reality could keep the independence dream alive. Hence, for a sector of secessionist nationalism, the reference was not the leader who faces the consequences of his actions, but rather the one who flees (to keep alive the dream of an independent Catalonia, of course). “We Catalans also have the right to dream” would be the motto of this sector in the face of the insurmountable limits of reality. The question, for operational purposes, would be: how many votes does this fraction of the Catalan electorate have?
The answer, according to the last general elections, would mean less than half a million voters (those brought together by Junts and the CUP). Likewise, another half million (ERC and PDeCAT) would have accepted the rules of reality but without formally renouncing the dream. The rest, up to the two million who opted for independence in the 2017 elections, would have opted on July 23 for what they considered the best possible reality (the 'last resort vote' for socialists or Sumar) or for hibernating in abstention.
If that – that of 23-J – were the map of the future in a Catalan election (see attached graphs), the electoral earthquake would reach colossal dimensions: the independence movement would lose almost half of its current seats in the Parliament (it would fall from 74 to 40 ) and the left (PSC Sumar) would almost reach the absolute majority (67 deputies). Of course, that will not happen and you only have to go to the recent municipal elections to see it: the nationalist formations approached 1,300,000 votes while the left as a whole did not reach a million, and the right (PP, Cs and Vox ) fell below half a million.
That is to say, although in the last local elections the state-wide parties added more votes than the pro-independence groups, the projection of those results on regional elections would keep the absolute nationalist majority safe (admittedly somewhat weaker than the current one but still above of the 68 seats in the Catalan Chamber, thanks to the electoral system). Consequently, although the electoral evolution accentuates the risk that the independence movement could lose control of the Parliament, it maintains the other disruptive factor in Catalan politics unchanged: the unresolved tie between Esquerra and Junts (with a slight advantage for the former in the legislative and of the seconds in the municipal ones).
This unfinished tie not only leaves a Catalan map very open to the future; It also explains the fierce struggle between Esquerra and Junts for the hegemony of the independence movement and condemns its leaders to a wild auction in the negotiation with the State (although now they together represent only 18% of the electoral roll, or 26% according to the latest regional statistics. ). Now, could the unbreakable balance thrown up by the confrontation between dream and reality in the independence space be affected by the rehabilitation and return to the Catalan electoral scene of the figure of Carles Puigdemont?
References from the past suggest that only the former president could break the nationalist tie in favor of Junts: he achieved it against the odds by three tenths and two valuable seats in the last Catalan elections he attended (2017) and increased his advantage in the next electoral event. in which he competed directly with Junqueras: the 2019 European elections, when he surpassed the ERC candidate by more than seven points. Those are the precedents. Could they be extrapolated to today?
The answer is that everything will depend on how Puigdemont resolves his situation (and that of hundreds of people who face the implacable weight of justice). In the world of Catalan independence it is very easy to go from hero to traitor. Starting a measure of grace and a return to real politics that does not mean at the same time the end of the independence dream of October 1, 2017 (and, therefore, the renunciation of intransigence and secessionist fundamentalism as electoral assets) does not It seems not at all simple. After all, sooner or later reality always ends up prevailing over fiction.