With more than 98% of the votes counted, the independence parties account for the first time more than 50% in regional elections in Catalonia. The figure was celebrated by the various forces that want the region to leave Spain, which, however much they divide them, read in this unprecedented result a green light for secession.
Republican Left (ERC) and Together for Catalonia (JxC) have already demanded “political consequences” and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras spoke of “self-determination referendum” and “amnesty”, three years after the one that leads him to be today ( like eight other Catalan politicians) serving a prison sentence. ERC, JxC, Candidacy for Popular Unity (CUP, radical left) and Catalan Democratic Party (PDeCat, born from a split of JxC and first parliamentary representation party) account for more than 51% of the votes.
The future Catalan government will depend on the negotiations of the coming weeks and on the red lines that the parties draw. These will dictate whether the independence majority or the left majority weighs more, which is also the case. Socialistas and Pode are willing to talk to the separatist and have been working together for many months to make the central executive of Pedro Sánchez viable.
ERC and JxC do not agree on the path to independence, as the former wants dialogue with the Spanish Government so as not to repeat the failure of the 2017 secession attempt, while the latter insists on the unilateral approach. Both call, like the CUP, for amnesty for imprisoned politicians.
On the right, the radicals celebrate (Vox, in his Catalan debut) and the institutional conservatives of the Citizens and the Popular Party sink. The losers justified the bad results with the drop in participation, from 79% to 53%, in an electoral act marked by bad weather and, of course, by the pandemic.
Here are the summaries of the speeches of all the leaders of the list, who spoke several times at the same time, in what the pivot of the Spanish state television TVE called “overbooking of interventions”.
Party of Catalan Socialists (PSC-PSOE)
“We had the election night we dreamed of,” rejoiced the leader of the Catalan socialists, Miquel Iceta. “I will be a candidate for investiture as president”, reinforced Salvador Illa, party candidate for head of the Catalan government, who entered the stage to the sound of “Changes” by David Bowie. The PSC had 23% of the votes and 33 deputies, having been the most voted party. Iceta, Minister of Territorial Administration for days, joined the Spanish Government with Illa’s departure from the Health portfolio to run for the Catalan elections. He argues that the results point to “dialogue and encounter”, that is, convergences such as those that allow the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (with which the PSC is brotherly) to rule Spain. He thinks of a putative agreement with the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), which came in second place, and the leftist list In Common We can, branch of the party that supports the PSOE in Madrid. “Catalonia wants Spain and Spain and Catalonia, there is no solution but a reunion”, defended Illa.
Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC)
Once out of jail for the election campaign (he enjoys a system where he only spends part of the week in prison), Oriol Junqueras, president of the ERC, said that the more than 50% of votes added by the separatist forces implies that there must be a referendum of self-determination in Catalonia. The party’s candidate for president of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, spoke in English to ask for the mediation of European institutions in resolving the conflict. He stressed that there is a majority for independence and a “majority of the left”, in the blink of an eye to Pode, with whom the ERC understood itself to make Pedro Sánchez’s Spanish Government viable. Pode is not a separatist but defends an agreed referendum and the release of politicians condemned for the 2017 secession attempt. Junqueras and Aragonès spoke of “amnesty” and “return of exiles”, that is, of those who fled to avoid facing the trial. His mission, when proposing himself to invest as president, will be “to build the Catalan Republic”. At the same time that he talks about this rupture with Spain, Aragonès calls for “great consensus” and promises to “listen to everyone”.
Together for Catalonia (JxC)
“Independence won the elections again,” said Carles Puigdemont, former president of Catalonia and head of the list of defenders of the unilateral path to independence. JxC had a fugitive in Belgium, celebrated a result that leaves the set of separatist forces “better than three years ago”. It refers to 2017, the year in which he unilaterally proclaimed independence, and then to suspend it, after which he was dismissed by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who suspended the region’s autonomy. “We always thought as a country,” explained the party’s candidate for president of the government, Laura Borràs. In his view, the independence majority “has to have political consequences”, because “citizenship is stubborn” and sent “a very clear message”
Ignacio Garriga, a candidate for the extreme right, said the elections were “historic” and proclaimed himself “the leader of the opposition to separatism and the left”. With 7.7% of the votes and 11 seats, Vox is the largest party of the Spanish right in Catalonia and enters the autonomous hemicycle for the first time. “We will not defraud you and we will not go back by a millimeter”, he guaranteed. Santiago Abascal, the national head of the party, said that the party “defeated violence”, alluding to the stone attack his party was targeting in the middle of the campaign.
In Common We Can (ECP)
The populist left, allied with the socialists in the central government with the support of the Republican Left of Catalonia, wants to repeat the central government formula in the region. The head of this party’s list for Sunday’s regional elections, Jéssica Albiach, promised to connect Monday with Salvador Illa, of the Party of Catalan Socialists (PSC), and Pere Aragonès, of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), to propose to them a progressive executive, rejecting “sterile vetoes” (reference to the ERC’s promise not to agree with the socialists). “It will be the most left-wing parliament in the history of Catalonia,” he recalled. The Catalan list In Common We accounted for 6.8% of the votes and eight seats in the autonomous parliament. Albiach deplored Vox’s (extreme right) entry into the Chamber for the first time, as the fourth political force, and stressed the need for democratic forces to erect a “sanitary cord” against that party.
Candidacy for Popular Unity (CUP)
Dolors Sabater, head of the radical separatist left list, promises to speak to politicians and social forces before deciding what kind of government he supports. Referendum on self-determination, freedom for prisoners, ecology and progression are the pillars that he indicates. With 6.7% of the votes and nine deputies, the CUP is central to forming an independent majority.
Inés Arrimadas, national leader of the liberal right-wing party born to fight separatism, deplored the growth of independence, which he attributes to the drop in participation. “We were unable to mobilize the moderate vote,” he said, assuming his responsibility. The same had said minutes earlier, the head of the list of Citizens in Catalonia, Carlos Carrizosa. Both congratulated the PSC socialists on being the largest party. The abstention was 46% and Citizens went from being the most voted in 2017 to being in sixth place with six parliamentary seats and 5.6% of the votes. Carrizosa asks for “pacts”, “coexistence” and “moderation”.
Popular Party (PP)
The results were “very bad”, acknowledged the head of the Popular Party (center-right) list in Catalonia, Alejandro Fernández. The PP fell from four to three deputies, will have no parliamentary group (five are needed) and, with 3.8% of the vote, was overtaken by the far-right party Vox. Defending that a “constitutionalist, Europeanist and liberal” project is “more necessary than ever” for Catalonia, he said he believes that much of that constituency stayed at home. Pablo Casado, leader of the PP, did not speak of the national leadership, but Secretary-General Teodoro García Egea. He blamed Pedro Sánchez for the advances of the independence parties, which he attributes to the “concessions” of the prime minister.