Artur Mas will have to wait 2 more days to become the next Catalan President

The Catalan Parliament voted on Artur Mas’ investiture today, but an absolute majority was needed. Mas only received the 62 votes of his group MPs. The other 6 parties voted “no”. The next voting will be on Thursday, the 23rd of December, when only a simple majority will be needed. It is expected that some parties will abstain to facilitate Mas' investiture.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

December 21, 2010 10:23 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Artur Mas was not elected as the next Catalan President during the first voting of the investiture debate. Artur Mas, the leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), has been asked to present a governing programme and try to receive the Catalan Parliament’s support to form a government. On Monday he presented his programme. The political groups of the Parliament then had their say on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. Mas replied to all of them. Finally, once Mas’ group gave its speech, logically giving their support to Mas’ proposal, the Parliament proceeded to vote on Mas’ investiture. An absolute majority, which is 68 votes, was needed. As expected, Artur Mas only got the votes of the CiU’s 62 MPs. The rest of the parties voted “no”. The investiture debate was postponed until Thursday, the 23rd of December, when a second voting will be held. Then, Mas would only need a simple majority.

In order to get a simple majority, Mas must receive more “yes” votes than “no” and he would not need to reach 68 votes. Therefore, he needs some MPs to change their vote to “yes” or “abstention”.

The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), with 28 MPs, leads the opposition. They announced they would vote “no” in the first voting, but there was speculation that they could abstain in the second voting. If the PSC MPs did this, with the 62 MPs from the CiU and the 28 abstentions from the PSC, the other 45 MPs from other forces could not block Mas’ investiture and he would become the 129th Catalan President. However, the leader of the Socialists in the Catalan Parliament, Joaquim Nadal, was ambiguous during his speech and did not announce how they will vote during the second voting. Nadal said that the PSC could vote “no”, but that would not mean they would close the door to collaborate with the new government on the main issues and country's priorities.

Another party that could abstain during the second voting is the Catalan People’s Party (PPC), with 18 MPs. The Conservatives agree with Mas in the business focus, tax cuts and the public administration reduction. However, they disagree with the way Mas sees the relationship between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. The PPC is Spanish Nationalist and the CiU is Catalan Nationalist. The PPC states that the only nation within Spain is Spain. The CiU states that Catalonia is also a nation, as Scotland is in the UK. Therefore, the CiU defends the Catalan people’s right to decide on their own future. The PPC completely opposes. This conviction pushes the CiU to ask for the right to self-determination, although Mas has stated on many occasions that he refuses to call for an independence referendum. The CiU wants to have the right, but not to use it. With this recognition, what the CiU wants is greater self-government (more competences) and, in particular, more economic resources. Artur Mas made negotiating a new economic agreement with Spain regarding fiscal redistribution his top priority. The PPC refuses this new agreement and the entire approach. In addition, Mas defends the Catalan language immersion model in public schools, a model awarded by the European Commission and UNESCO as a way to guarantee the knowledge of both official languages (Catalan and Spanish) and as a way to not create 2 separate language communities. The PPC defends the right of schooling pupils mainly in Spanish in Catalan public schools, which the CiU believes would break this immersion model and create 2 language communities. As the CiU will not abandon these stances and the PPC will not embrace others, it is unlikely that the PPC will vote “yes” during the second voting. However, it is also unlikely they will vote “no”, as the PPC is willing to negotiate further measures with Mas.

The Catalan Eco Socialist Party (ICV-EUia), the former Communist party, has 10 MPs. As they did in the first voting, they will vote “no” in the second as well, although they could negotiate with CiU in the future regarding self-governing measures and pushing for a pluri-national and federal Spain. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), with 10 votes, may change its vote on Thursday and abstain. With the ERC's abstention, Mas would be elected president. The ERC’s abstention is likely, as the ERC is eager to agree on some future measures with CiU. The 2 smallest parties in the Parliament, which form the Mixed Group, are likely to vote “no”. The largest is Solidaritat Catalana per la Independència (SI), a Centre-Right Catalan Independence and Populist party that wants to declare unilateral independence. They have 4 MPs. As Mas refuses to call for an independence referendum, they will vote against him. The smallest party is Ciudadanos, the Anti Catalan Nationalism Party, a Populist party that has 3 MPs. They will very likely vote “no”, as Mas wants to negotiate a new relationship with Spain.