Catalonia begins countdown to potential new election

Parties have two months to find support for presidential candidate before new vote automatically called

Catalan parliament
Catalan parliament / Arnau Martínez
Oriol Escudé Macià

Oriol Escudé Macià | @oriolsqd | Barcelona

June 26, 2024 11:09 AM

June 26, 2024 04:18 PM

The countdown to a new election in Catalonia has begun. If political parties fail to agree on a presidential candidate within two months, Catalans will be called back to the polls in October.  

The clock started ticking on Wednesday, after Catalan parliament speaker Josep Rull held what is known as an "equivalent act" to a presidential investiture debate, after confirming that no candidate had enough support to be appointed. 


In the session, Rull read a resolution formalizing the process and setting a deadline of August 26. If no agreement is reached among the parties by then, elections will be automatically called 47 days later, on October 13.

"After consultations with the parties, none have proposed a candidate to go through the presidential investiture debate in the first deadline of ten days," he said. 


Parties face a busy summer of negotiations. Because of the likelihood of a last-minute agreement, the parliament board decided on Tuesday that a presidential investiture debate could be held in the first half of August, even though those two weeks are normally considered a non-working period.

So far, the two candidates who have put themselves forward to be the future Catalan president are the Socialist leader and winner of the May 12 election, Salvador Illa, and pro-independence Junts+ leader Carles Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia during the 2017 independence referendum. However, neither has enough support at the moment. 

Salvador Illa is the most likely candidate to become president, but he needs the support of the left-wing Comuns, which is already secured, and the pro-independence Esquerra, which will be the most difficult to obtain.

"I will try by all means for there to be an investiture debate, for a government to be formed, and to avoid new elections. The only way to do this is with a left-wing coalition," Illa said. 


However, Junts+ will also try to make Puigdemont president, although this would require the Socialists to abstain, which is an unlikely scenario.

"We know it is not easy, but we have time, weeks. Junts+ will do everything to make Puigdemont president and avoid a new election," Albert Batet, the party's parliament president said. 

Batet criticized attempts to "delegitimize" the former Catalan president's candidacy and reminded the Socialists that Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez did not win the election, but is governing thanks to agreements with other parties.


If Junts and the Socialists fail to reach an agreement, which is unlikely, the presidency will depend on the vote of pro-independence Esquerra, which held power in Catalonia last term.

The party, which lost several seats in the May 12 election, is currently engaged in an internal renewal battle and has not yet endorsed any party. Instead, it is urging Junts and the Socialists to negotiate among themselves.

"They have more than enough votes combined to elect a president. In fact, they spent the entire previous legislature voting together against Esquerra with no issue," Josep Maria Jové, the party's parliament president said. 


Conservative People's Party leader Alejandro Fernández criticized the Socialists for making deals with pro-independence parties, saying they will only support "whoever promises to end the independence push, not only in Catalonia but also in Madrid."

"Whether there is a new election or not, we will do the opposite of the Socialists: we will not lie to anyone," he said. 


Far-right Vox leader Ignacio Garriga has accused the parties of turning the Catalan parliament "into a circus."

In a speech against all, Garriga said the other parties were "lying to the Catalans."

"Junts and the Socialists appear to be unhappy, but they have governed together in Madrid for years, passing laws week after week against the interests of Catalans," he said.


Jéssica Albiach, leader of left-wing Comuns, urged Illa to "make an effort and be proactive" in the negotiations. 

"Do not lie to the citizens. There are only two options: an agreement between Esquerra, the Socialists and us, or a new election," she said. 


Laia Estrada, from far-left pro-independence CUP, criticized that Junts and the Socialists have the same agenda. 

"They share an agenda of large-scale projects, cutting public services, of bowing to the stock market and large companies," she said. 


The leader of the far-right Aliança Catalana and mayor of Ripoll, Sílvia Orriols, made her first intervention in the Catalan parliament after entering it for the first time in the May 12 election.

"We will not endorse a candidate for nothing. Our modest support has a price, a high price: the restoration of the Catalan state and a strict control of its borders," she said.