December 21, beginning of the winter solstice, the longest night. Was it the same for the seats of the different parties competing in the Catalan elections? Probably not. The scenario prefigured by election results suggests to take it easy. It’s better to wait for Christmas, New Year and the Three Wise Men (Epiphany) to start dialoguing with those on the same wavelength and reach an agreement to
form a government that will meet the decision of the voters. It will be hard, extremely hard.
Ballots and seats. The votes counted, 99% of which past midnight, challenges puzzled political analysts. Nobody dares make forecasts for the immediate future. Many observers, including the same candidates, perhaps under the influence of a “landslide victory” interpretative key, viewed this election day as a repetition – this time in the eyes of the law – of the referendum of October 31st. Moreover, it’s hard to understand how many Catalans are pro-independence. In terms of votes, unionists won 13 thousand votes more than separatist parties, as emerged in a census of 5.5 million Catalans entitled to vote. But the electoral system does not grant the same weight to all votes, thus the three pro-independence parties that since 2015 had the majority in the Catalan Parliament won 70 seats, two seats more than the absolute majority. This means that according to this “plebiscitary” interpretation, although only 47.5 % of Catalan voters are pro-independence, they obtained a majority in Parliament.
The situation is bound to grow complicated.
Ciudadanos, the winner. The absolute, acknowledged winner in these elections was Ciudadanos (C’s), a party created only ten years ago, which passed from three seats in 2003, when it first ran in the elections, to being the second largest party in 2015 and now gained 37 Parliament seats, more than the two nationalist parties Junts per Catalunya (34) and Esquerra republicana (32). Ciudadanos, connected to the national government’s Partido Popular , reaffirmed its constitutionalist stance before the Catalan crisis. In Parliament, Ciudadanos spokesperson Inés Arrimadas protested against the separatist “process”, referring to the political determination of the outgoing Catalan Government to declare the Republic independent.
What now? Resuming pro-independence talks with a new “process”, mindful of the outcome of the “unilateral decision”, taken behind the back of the national government, doesn’t seem a good idea. Moreover, it’s not the same scenario of 2015, when Junts per Catalunya (nationalist right-wing) and Esquerra republicana (separatist left-wing) ran as a joint coalition reaching an agreement with CUP (anti-system) MPs to install Carles Puigdemont as Catalonia’s President, to avoid the appointment of the coalition candidate Artur Mas. This time each party presented its own candidate: Puigdemont (fled or exiled, according to individual interpretations) and Junqueras (under arrest). Puigdemont’s statements from Brussels after midnight had a vaguely revengeful connotation: “The Catalan republic has beaten the 155 monarchy.” At least one thing is correct: over 80% of Catalan voters went to the polls, an unprecedented event. However, he’s wrong if he thinks that a “restitution” (in his own words) of the “illegitimately suspended” government will take place without paying a price.
(*) Editor-in-chief Ciudad Nueva (Spain)