On sunday the catalan elections took place and the question, more than who was going to win since it was clear it was going to be CiU, was how much support the government parties were going to lose and whether any new parties were getting in the Parliament. For a start we have that Artur Mas will soon be the 129th president of the Generalitat.
Looking at the results, in the case of the Catalan branch of PSOE, they’ve gotten their worst results. Less than 30 deputies and losing in their usual stronghold, the Barcelona metropolitan area, to CiU. Esquerra, the left wing catalan “independentists” have also been severely punished by their lack of coherence of being in the government with a spanish nationalist party while calling themselves independentists. Their strategy to become the left wing reference party in Catalonia has proven wrong and insisting on holding to the government has made them lose more than half their deputies.
As for the new parties, the only new party that has made it has been Laporta’s Solidaritat which has managed to scrape just enough votes to make it in the Parliament. Even though the party is only a few months old their strategy of grabbing some of Reagrupament’s ideas (the Unilateral Declaration of Independence) added to the popularity of its leader as former president of the most successful FC Barcelona managed to convince some independentists to give him their support. However, both Solidaritat and Reagrupament have failed to bring new voters to independentist positions since most of the voters of both have come from former voters of Esquerra upset with its lack of commitment with independentism. In fact, adding up the votes of Esquerra, Solidaritat and Reagrupament there’s less voters than Esquerra alone got in the previous Catalan elections, all in all a very bad result for independentism.
Reagrupament, even though making a colossal effort resulting in a very competitive campaign couldn’t get their message through to the voters by not being able to overcome the obstacles, fighting against Laporta’s popularity and the media ban (I’ll write an article about it at some point but new parties are banned from appearing on public media in Catalonia during election period, incredible but true) so the association will have to start a process of redefinition of its strategy since its 3500 associates and its program of political regeneration are valuable assets that must continue to contribute. On a positive side Reagrupament’s success has been to define a new path towards independence that is now partly in Laporta’s hands. We’ll keep an eye on the progress. In any case Catalan independentism must analyse the mistakes made as to why when popular support for independence is higher than ever it has failed to translate this to representation in the Parliament.
On the other side of the national spectrum the Spanish nationalists PP have gained some votes, probably former Spanish nationalist PSOE voters disillusioned with Montilla’s government.
It is worth mentioning that the PxC, a racist party, got almost 80000 votes, on the verge of sitting in the Parliament. Catalan politicians and the society will have to work on integration and immigration policies (however little decision power Catalonia currently may have on these issues) and make an effort to tackle this problem before it gets out of hand.
On the meantime CiU will have a very tough job to do since the Generalitat is in a dire financial situation (40.000 million euros of public debt at the end of the year) and Spain’s finances are starting to be in the spotlight after the Eurozone bailing out Ireland’s economy.
I’m curious (and very skeptical) to see how will CiU maneuver with Spain to stick to their promise of achieving the “concert econòmic” (so that Catalonia manages its own taxes) to stop the financial plundering in a moment when Spain’s economy is also badly hurt and in need of every euro to sustain its colossal and inefficient structure. On the practical side they seem to have forgotten about it already since Felip Puig, one of CiU’s spokespeople, before even starting any negotiation and only two days after the elections, has already declared that having the same tax treatment as Euskadi and Navarra is not viable, I guess he meant that it would not be viable for Spain, because for Catalonia to stay viable it needs, at least, to control its taxes as soon as possible. If this is how they are going to defend the interests of Catalonia then I foresee that we’re up for some very interesting years ahead.