Catalan citizens to decide on the future of Catalonia and Spain

The 7 years of the Left-Wing 3-party coalition may end on Sunday and CiU may once again rule the Catalan Government. Spain is looking carefully at these elections: the Socialists may collapse, the People’s Party may win seats thanks to its anti-immigration speech, and if CiU wins, they could help Zapatero to pass economic reforms. Europe should look at these elections: the future of the Euro is in Zapatero’s hands, but Zapatero may be in CiU’s. The campaign finished at midnight on Friday. Saturday is the “reflexion day”, when campaigning is forbidden. Sunday the 28th of November is Election Day. The parties’ candidates with Parliamentary representation presented their projects to CNA for a foreign audience.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

November 26, 2010 10:53 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The campaign is now over, a campaign where the 6 parties with parliamentary representation got most of the attention although new parties jumped into the political arena. Artur Mas, the leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU), will very likely win the next elections. It seems that the main question is knowing the exact results, if CiU will get the absolute majority of 68 seats or how close it will be from it. Then, the other main question is with whom CiU would govern and make a parliamentary agreement, in the case of not getting enough seats in the Catalan Parliament. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), made formal offers to CiU to support its main campaign proposal: getting a new economic agreement between Catalonia and Spain regarding fiscal redistribution. CiU did not want to talk about agreements before the voting stations closed. However, these elections will not only affect Catalonia. These elections affect the political future of Spain and, indirectly, the future of the Euro.

‘The Economist’ said today that the Euro is in the hands of Zapatero and his reforms. In order to pass the reforms, Zapatero will need parliamentary support in the Spanish Parliament. CiU’s 10 seats are precious for Zapatero. If CiU wins in Catalonia, they will be much keener to agree with Zapatero. The implicit condition: the end of the Left-Wing 3-party coalition that rules the Catalan Government led by the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). Catalan citizens have the key to end this, and it looks like they will use it. CiU will very likely win the Catalan elections, getting almost double the number of seats than the second force. It seems very unlikely that something could stop CiU from ruling the next Catalan Government. However, the main question is how close CiU will be from obtaining the absolute majority and governing alone. The answer, on Sunday night.

A controversial campaign

The campaign for this election started in a controversial way due to the Catalan branch of People’s Party (PPC) flirting with anti-immigration speech. This speech reached the climax with the publication of an online videogame where the PPC leader, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, was shooting at illegal immigrants. The video was taken offline some hours later and received critiques from all sides, including from Madrid politicians. However, this video was not the only controversial one. Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) Youth uploaded a video of a young woman faking an orgasm when voting for the PSC; the motto: voting for the PSC leader “is a pleasure”. CiU’s Youth also made a controversial video. A thief dressed as Spain’s silhouette and colours was pick pocketing a Catalan man. The video aimed to stress the high fiscal deficit that Catalonia suffers (10% of its annual GDP) and underline CiU’s proposal for a new economic agreement. In fact, the ERC did no make a controversial video, but its leader made controversial declarations regarding the fiscal deficit. Joan Puigcercós, the ERC’s leader, said in a campaign event that nobody pays taxes in Andalucía. The Andalucían President made an official speech condemning these affirmations and Madrid politicians jumped all over Puigcercós, while Catalan separatists and ERC voters cheered.

The final controversy revolved around a TV debate between the 2 main candidates: Artur Mas from CiU and José Montilla from the PSC. Montilla forced Mas to accept a one-on-one debate during the official TV debate among the candidates of the 6 parties with parliamentary representation. The other 4 protested. Finally, the Electoral Commission of Barcelona banned the one-on-one debate. The PSC and CiU appealed to the Spanish Central Electoral Commission, which also banned it because the debate was not announced at least 5 days in advance.

However, despite the controversies, this campaign has displayed the programmes and proposals of the parties. They propose very different measures; they have different ways of handling the issues. Depending on the new composition of the Catalan Parliament, the relations between Catalonia and Spain could change. However, what is known for sure is that the results of this election will impact Catalan citizens’ everyday life, but also Spanish politics, Zapatero’s destiny and maybe even the Euro.