Catalonia starts European elections campaign amid post-election uncertainty

Parties juggle rallies for EU vote and negotiations to choose new Catalan president or face new elections

A person voting in a school in Lleida in 2019
A person voting in a school in Lleida in 2019 / Laura Alcalde
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

May 27, 2024 10:40 AM

May 27, 2024 01:28 PM

Campaigning for the June 9 European elections began in Catalonia on Friday, less than two weeks after Catalans went to the polls for the Catalan election.  

The European vote comes amid ongoing negotiations to form a government, which will take place during the campaign, as the parliament must be formed by June 10, the day after the vote.  

It has been 10 years since Catalonia held a European election that did not coincide with another election. At that time, the turnout was 46%.  

In the last European election, in 2019, nearly 61% of eligible Catalans voted, the highest turnout in the territory's history.   

However, the turnout then was driven by the aftermath of the independence movement, and there is uncertainty about how Catalans will vote this time. 

Although polls for the EU as a whole predict a turnout of 71%, this could vary in Catalonia given the proximity to the last election and growing political discontent

Negotiations amid campaigning 

The deadline for forming the parliamentary board is June 10, the day after the elections, so parties will have to combine campaigning with negotiations for the Catalan parliament.  

The May 12 election was won by the Socialists, who hope to convince other parties to make their leader, Salvador Illa, president.  

The most viable option is a left-wing coalition with the Comuns, who have already agreed to support them, and the pro-independence Esquerra, which did poorly in the elections but holds the key to electing the next president.  

Head of the Socialist's party, Salvador Illa, celebrated his victory in the electoral elections on May 12
Head of the Socialist's party, Salvador Illa, celebrated his victory in the electoral elections on May 12 / Jordi Borràs

Another option for the Socialists would be to gain the support of pro-independence Junts, but their leader, former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, has also expressed his intention to run for president. 

First contacts between parties have been made, but the Socialists want to give their counterparts time to "digest and reflect" on the results, especially Esquerra, which is facing a leadership renewal after losing several seats.  

Junts sees the European campaign as a "negotiating tool" and confirms that contacts will continue in the coming weeks. "Nothing will be put on hold," they say.  

Junts+ candidate Carles Puigdemont
Junts+ candidate Carles Puigdemont / Nico Tomás

Sources in Junts say that they will "combine both tasks" and work towards "independence unity" to form a government led by Carles Puigdemont, who promises to "explore all options" for his investiture, which would require the Socialists to abstain. 

Both Salvador Illa and Carles Puigdemont have insisted that they will proceed with discretion, involving few people in the negotiations, avoiding speculation, and only announcing possible agreements.  

These negotiations will determine whether Catalans will soon have a government or, on the contrary, whether they will have to go to the polls again in October for a new election