Thursday, February 25, 2021

Elections in Catalonia. Domingo decides whether to move towards independence or to approach Spain again – ZAP

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Catalan separatist parties, with a majority of seats in the regional parliament, have led the Generalitat (regional government) since 2015, but have been very divided since in 2017 they were defeated in their attempt to gain independence from Spain.

Although, since the socialist Pedro Sánchez came to power in the Spanish central government in 2018, tensions with Madrid have eased, it seems that these have moved to the heart of the independence movement, mainly between the two most important separatist formations linked in the current regional executive.

Together for Catalonia (JxC, right), the party of the former regional president who is now on the run in Belgium, Carles Puigdemont, continues to defend the confrontation with the central state and repeats that it intends to unilaterally proclaim independence, if it wins the elections.

For its part, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC, socialist) defends the dialogue with Pedro Sanchez, even being a fundamental ally for him to remain in power in Madrid.

Politologist and political science professor at the University of Barcelona Oriol Bartomens is convinced that the independenceists “will continue to have the majority” in the regional parliament, the problem is that they “do not trust each other”, which will lead to a “great instability” in government, and it is difficult for them to hold out for the duration of the legislature.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez launched former Health Minister Salvador Illa as a socialist candidate in the Catalan elections, which according to the polls may be the most voted.

Most of the opinion polls published so far head the list of the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC, associated with the PSOE) slightly ahead (21-22%), of the two main independent formations that govern the autonomous community: Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC, 20-21%) and Together for Catalonia (JxC, 19-20%).

The block of independentist parties would have, as in the previous elections of 2017, about 47% of the votes against more than 49% in the constitutionalist bloc, but would continue to have more seats in the regional parliament due to a voting system that values ​​votes in rural areas, with less population.

If the independence parties have a majority of seats, despite being divided, it would be incomprehensible to their supporters to miss out on the opportunity to once again rule Catalonia.

“The party bases would not understand” that a separatist executive should not be formed, defends the professor of Media and Politics at the University of Navarra Carlos Barrera.

Analysts agree that the ERC may play a central role in future negotiations to train an executive in Catalonia.

This formation is the only one that can, eventually, choose between the separatist bloc or make a bridge with ideologically closer constitutionalist parties, such as the PSC and En Comú Pode (the Catalan brand of national, far-left).

Even so, Carlos Barrera is convinced that the separatist dimension will “be on top” of the ideological and end up conditioning the formation of the future executive.

The final stretch of the electoral campaign in Catalonia, which ends tonight, was marked by the signing of a document between the independentist parties with parliamentary seats – JxC, ERC, CUP, and PDeCAT (European Democratic Party of Catalonia, right) – so that there are post-election pacts with the PSC.

The real scope of this commitment was called into question by not being signed by the head of the ERC list, but by another less important figure on the list of this party.

Uncertainty about the outcome of regional elections increases with the foreseeable abstention growth, with many voters saying they will not vote.

If in 2017 there were only 2% who said they would not vote, now it would be 12%, according to the polls, this percentage being higher than that verified before the Galician (4%) and Basque (8%) elections held in July last year, already during the covid-19 pandemic.

A total of 14,200 regional police officers (Mossos d’Esquadra) and the local Catalonian police are deployed to ensure security at 2,769 polling stations on Sunday.

Catalonia is located in the northeast of Spain and is one of the 17 autonomous communities in the country, with a government and a regional parliament, as well as its own police (Mossos d’Esquadra).

The Catalan executive, like that of the other autonomous communities, has important powers in areas such as Education and Health, but the other main areas of governance are in the hands of the central government: taxes, foreign affairs, defense, infrastructure (ports, airports) and railways), among others.

The region has about 7.8 million inhabitants and it is considered the richest in Spain, producing a fifth of the country’s wealth and with an annual GDP higher than that of Portugal or Greece.

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Elections in Catalonia.  Domingo decides whether to move towards independence or to approach Spain again - ZAP