hand putting ballot box

Opinion: 2021 Catalan Election

Published: 16 February 2021

Catalan regional election took place on Sunday (14 February) with pro-independence parties increasing their overall majority. This election saw the lowest turnout on record, but this does not take away from the constitutional significance of the vote. CCC's Daniel Cetrà and Michael Keating give their views. 

Michael Keating said: 

"It is a mess and we can’t see a clear way out. We are just deadlocked again. Like the last few elections in Catalonia, this one has just has not produced an outcome. 

Basically, it is 50-50. There has been a small shift to the pro-independence side, and that takes it just over the line to a majority of voters and of seats.

There seemed to be a possibility a few months ago that the Esquerra would do very well, go well ahead of Junts, and do a deal with the Socialists. That has disappeared now. They seem to be sticking to a pro-independence coalition. I don’t see where that goes because it is an untidy coalition; they are not only all over the place on tactics on independence but they go to the extreme left to pretty hard right.

The only way to break the deadlock is to get a government with nationalists and non-nationalists. 

Esquerra and the socialists, who agree on social economic issues, would have been a possibility.

That would have given a government that was prepared to think of a range of alternatives.

With the socialists in government in Madrid, that was a rare opportunity to have an interlocutor in the central government. We seem to have lost it."

Daniel Cetrà said the pro-independence side held ground "despite deep internal disputes, controversial handling of the pandemic, and the 'alleged ‘Illa effect’, according to which Illa would boost the Socialists’ results and form a ‘constitutionalist government'. 

In Catalonia, votes move around within each bloc ‘(independentista’/unionista) but otherwise are rather entrenched.

The more pragmatic or softer options within each bloc (Esquerra and the PSC) are now dominant, although in the case of ERC this is only by a narrow margin. 

This internal realignment makes it easier to create spaces for dialogue with Madrid, where the coalition government often relies on the support of Esquerra. This dialogue will not result in a negotiated independence referendum but could entail a ‘pardon’ for jailed Catalan leaders.

The most likely outcome is another pro-independence coalition between Esquerra and Junts, although other scenarios cannot be ruled out just yet. However, it remains to be seen if the new government will be more united and stable than the last. Be that as it may, the constitutional deadlock is likely to remain."

These quotes were originally posted by The Herald.

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