Future Catalan president uncertain after election leaves hung parliament

Esquerra says they will not form government with Socialists, while Junts+ favors 'recovering unity' among pro-independence forces

Pro-independence Esquerra candidate Pere Aragonès reflects on the results
Pro-independence Esquerra candidate Pere Aragonès reflects on the results / Àlex Recolons
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

May 12, 2024 11:24 PM

May 13, 2024 02:19 AM

The Socialist Party won the Catalan elections with 42 seats, while the pro-independence party Junts came in second with 35 seats, 15 more than the current ruling party Esquerra.

The challenge now will be to see who gets the majority to form a government, as there are only a few possible combinations and the crossed vetoes make even a repeat election likely.

Socialists win, but may struggle to form government

The Socialist Party has come out on top in the Catalan election, winning 42 seats, nine more than in the last vote and seven more than the second largest party, Junts+.

Although Salvador Illa is the most likely candidate to lead the next government, his bid is not assured, as pro-independence Esquerra could block his candidacy. 

Pere Araghonès, Esquerra's candidate and current Catalan president, confirmed that the party would go into opposition after the bad results were announced. 

"We will take the will of the citizens, so we will continue to work on our political project from where the citizens want us to be: in opposition," he said. 


The left-wing pro-independence party lost 13 seats after being in the government and holding the presidency for the last three years. Esquerra lost 12% of the vote, which is more than 200,000 votes.

Puigdemont will try to be president

Pro-independence Junts+ won 35 seats, three more than in the previous election. Despite the improvements, all hopes for its candidate Carles Puigdemont to become president happened to have a pro-independence majority, which failed to materialize. However, Junts+ is the only pro-independence party that gained votes compared to the last election. 

With a majority of pro-independence forces out of the picture, Puigdemont has left the door open to form a government with a simple majority, although he will need the abstention of the Socialist Party and the support of the pro-independence Esquerra and CUP, an unlikely combination. 

Puigdemont blamed the poor results of the pro-independence parties on the low mobilization of pro-independence voters and the strong unionist mobilization. 

"A significant part of the pro-independence electorate is still demobilized and continues to abstain from voting. This fact forces us to make a long overdue reflection within the independence camp on the consequences of division," he said. 


The former Catalan president also invited Esquerra to join forces. "If Esquerra is willing to rebuild bridges, to enter into this reflection of why the pro-independence movement is not unified, we will also be willing," he said.   


Conservative PP recovers from worst result in its history

Conservative People’s Party came in fourth place with 15 seats, a big improvement compared to the 2021 election, where they achieved their worst result in its history, winning only three seats.

“We are the party that grew the most in Catalonia”, the leader for the Catalan side of the People’s Party, Alejandro Fernández, said on Sunday evening in front of media outlets and supporters, standing alongside some of his party members, after hearing the results.


“We have had a couple of awful years but we are bouncing back as the most open party of Catalonia,” Fernández said.

He also promised to “protect our morals and values in the parliament” and said that “Catalonia does not want pro-independence forces.”

Fernández also expressed his disappointment that the thousands of people who voted for Cuidadanos will not be represented in the parliament because of the party’s wipeout.

“The People’s Party’s flag is the flag of the freedom of Catalonia,” Fernández finished his speech strongly.

Far-right VOX keeps 11 seats

Far-right Vox kept its 11 seats in the election, consolidating its position as the fifth largest force in the parliament after PSC, Junts+, ERC and PP. 

By securing representation in all of Catalonia's constituencies, Vox matches its performance in the 2021 elections, where it garnered 21,121 votes, nearly 8%, and secured 11 MPs.

"These three years in the opposition are nothing in comparison to what we're going to do for the next four years in the Catalan parliament to give hope to Catalans," party leader Ignacio Garriga said.


Comuns-Sumar lose two MPs

The left-wing Comuns-Sumar lost two MPs in the election, going from eight to six seats, a loss of around 15,000 votes.

Comuns-Sumar is part of the coalition that currently governs Spain with the Socialist Party led by Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez, and they aim to replicate this coalition with Esquerra in Catalonia. 

Their candidate, Jéssica Albiach, proposed to make a deal with the left-wing parties in the Catalan parliament. 

"A new era of the left in Catalonia is possible and we are essential for it. We call on all left-wing forces in the parliament to form a government together," she said. 


CUP urges pro-indy parties to 'reflect'

Far-left pro-independence CUP secured four seats, five fewer than in the last elections, making it the second smallest force in the parliament, just ahead of the far-right Aliança Catalana.

CUP candidate Laia Estrada urged the independence movement to "reflect" after the elections, warning that the elections had "put a stop to all of Catalonia's social and national aspirations". 

"A reactionary wave is sweeping through our country," said Estrada, who called the emergence of Aliança Catalana "very bad news." 


Liberal Ciudadanos out of parliament

Ciudadanos suffered a total wipeout in the election. The liberal party, which currently holds six seats in parliament, did not win a single MP. This comes just seven years after winning the 2017 election.   

The party led by Carlos Carrizosa received 0.72% of the vote, and was even outperformed by the animalist party Pacma, which received [1.09%]. To enter the Catalan parliament, parties must obtain at least 3% of the vote in one of the four constituencies.   

Despite the party's poor result, Carrizosa announced the party would run again in the next Catalan election.

"To the rival parties who have wished we disappear all these years, to the haters on social media and in the streets who have been knocking us, to all of them I have bad news: Ciudadanos is going to run again in the next Catalan election," he said.