Socialists win elections in Catalonia, pro-independence parties fail to add up… A difficult victory to manage

SalvadorIllaSalvador Illa, PSC leader

Salvador Illa, the candidate of the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC), with 27.9% of the vote and 42 seats, has won the elections in Catalonia. Carles Puigdemont and Junts obtained 21.5% of the votes and 35 seats, but their great partner in the “procés”, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), which until now had been in charge of the government of the Generalitat, has suffered a debacle and has been left with 20 seats (losing 13), so that it seems impossible to re-establish a pro-independence government. Despite this, Carles Puigdemont, in his first public statements, has pointed out that the difference between the winner, Salvador Illa, and himself is no greater than the difference in the Spanish Parliament between Feijoó and Sánchez (and Sánchez governs).

In any case, the sum of all the forces that have advocated a referendum in Catalonia would not exceed 67 seats (Junts 35, ERC 20, Comuns 6, CUP 4 and Alliança 2), so it is likely that Salvador Illa, who has already expressed his willingness to try to form a government, will seek the backing of ERC to add 68 votes (the exact absolute majority) in a tripartite of PSC, ERC and Comuns (the Catalan section of Sumar, which has lost two seats).

Having become the fourth political force with 15 seats and 10.9% of the vote, the PP is up 12 seats, undoubtedly benefiting – as is the PSOE – from the disappearance of a centrist party such as Ciudadanos, which has failed to enter Parliament when half a dozen years ago it was the most voted party in Catalonia. To the right of the PP, VOX has managed to maintain its 11 seats and 8 per cent of the vote.

Only Sánchez’s political skill allows us to imagine how the PSC could convince ERC to support Illa in the Generalitat and Sánchez in Madrid, given the high price ERC has paid for its embrace of the PSOE (in Madrid and Barcelona). In fact, Pere Aragonés, the outgoing president, has already declared that they are going where they have been sent, “to the opposition”. Although the real leader of ERC seems to remain the pardoned Oriol Junqueras.

And if the PSC finally wins the support of ERC, it is not easy to imagine what Pedro Sánchez can offer Carles Puigdemont so that the separatist leader will maintain his support in the Madrid government, now that the secessionist path – which was the agenda agreed by Junts and ERC with Pedro Sánchez in exchange for his support in Madrid – has been cut short. A difficult victory to manage.

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The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.