ERC have gone from being on their way to being the second Catalan party to being in danger of becoming irrelevant after the last two rounds of elections and has left Catalan independentism clearly underrepresented in the Catalan Parliament. It seems now that the party has finally come to the conclusion that it needs to change strategy since the current prioritizing the left wing policies over the independentism has proven disastrous. Also, ERC hasn’t been able to deal with the different ideological and power struggles from within which have progressively weakened it.
Since May it has not been able to be an effective oposition and make CiU’s contradictions more clear in the face of the severe cuts applied to the Generalitat’s budget and the deals CiU has closed with PP.
So when internal elections in ERC were called everyone looked over to Brussels for Oriol Junqueras. Junqueras, an independent euro MP for ERC has stayed away from all the internal struggles while at the same time managing to collect a promising array of successes. His most recent achievement was to win the the municipal elections in Sant Vicenç dels Horts, the biggest council that ERC have won in the past municipal elections. Junqueras is now virtually ERC’s president, since noone else has taken a step forward to compete for the position.
Junqueras has managed to articulate a Catalan front, siding with CiU (Ramon Tremosa) and ICV (Oriol Romeva), in Brussels and also in Sant Vincenç which great success in defending Catalan interests and creating a set of alliances which make sense and that many people would like to see translated into the Catalan and Spanish Parliaments.
Junqueras’ appointment as leader of ERC sends a very clear message. ERC wants to take the lead as the main party of Catalan independentism. Also, a lot of care has been taken to avoid internal struggles and to make the handover period as smooth and peaceful as possible.
But now a new front has been opened. The upcoming elections to the Spanish Parliament (Congreso de los Diputados) on November the 20th finds ERC in the middle of its transition. On September the 17th ERC members will also elect their candidate for the Spanish elections. The
options are Joan Ridao and Alfred Bosch.
Bosch, a successful writer and historian, was the spokesman for Barcelonadecideix.cat, the entity formed by volunteers which organised the popular referendum for independence in Barcelona last April, and has accepted the challenge at Junqueras’ request. Bosch is perceived, as an independent, to be an excellent choice for leading a Catalan coalition in Madrid.
If Bosch is elected interesting things may happen. Reagrupament have already shown interest in a coalition and the members of SI have voted that the party can only go to Madrid within a Catalan coalition, so they are forced to speak with ERC. If this finally takes place it could steal a chunk of votes from CiU since their candidate Duran i Lleida has a clear profile against independence and many of CiU’s independentist voters would not feel comfortable voting him.
Pictures by Oriol Junqueras and BarcelonaDecideix2011
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