Independence Supporters Win Catalonia Elections
A bloc of nationalist parties advocating self-determination for Spain’s north-eastern region won in Catalonia’s regional parliamentary elections on Sunday 14 February, as in previous elections in 2017. The nationalists, who collectively won a majority in parliament (135 MPs in total were elected), are now expected to form the region’s government for the next four years.
A spokesman for the Central Electoral Commission of Catalonia (CECC), said that two parties, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ESR) (33 seats) and Junts per Catalunya (32 seats), received the opportunity to form a governing coalition. Their leaders, Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont respectively, did not run. The former is serving a prison sentence for attempting to declare Catalonia’s sovereignty in 2017, while the latter is hiding abroad as he is being prosecuted by Spanish justice for the same act.
Commenting for DW on the election results, Ramon Muñoz, professor of political science at the University of Madrid, said that « the formation of a coalition must be preceded by overcoming the eternal rivalry » between supporters of Junqueras and Puigdemont, as well as an agreement with another nationalist party, the Candida de Unidad Popular (9 mandates). « If it is not possible to overcome the divisions and form a government, Catalonia will face new elections in 3 months’ time. »
The ESR, continued the political scientist, received, like the left-wing Republicans, 33 mandates. This « theoretically allows it to form a governing coalition ». Back in January, based on poll data favourable to it, the ESR proposed that the Republicans form a centre-left government with a third party, Podemos, as a result of the elections. However, the Republicans refused, recalling that the Socialist Party and Podemos did not share their ideas of independence.
Meanwhile, according to Muñoz, the possibility of an alliance between the Socialists and other opponents of independence « was not even considered: both for ideological and tactical reasons ». After all, such an alliance would not have brought the ESR a parliamentary majority, given the low popularity of the aforementioned parties in Catalonia.