Catalan election campaign kicks off at midnight

On Sunday the 28th of November, Catalans will elect their new Parliament, which will then elect the new Catalan Government for the next 4-year term. These elections are very likely to change the Catalan political landscape, becoming a barometer of support for the Socialist party in Catalonia. The elections may have consequences for all of Spain. All the polls point to the main opposition force, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), as just below the absolute majority.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

November 11, 2010 11:09 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Tonight at midnight the electoral campaign will officially start, although political parties have already been hectic in the last months. Parties will symbolically unveil the campaign posters in different events throughout Catalonia. The 6 parties present in the 135-seat Catalan Parliament will enter the elections knowing that their rapport of forces is likely to face considerable change. The main opposition force, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), is very likely to take power in the next term. The Left-Wing 3-party coalition government that has been ruling Catalonia during the last 7 years will very likely lose power, as the 2 main parties in the coalition do not want to continue and the polls indicate that, in any case, they will not have enough seats in the Parliament. The campaign is seeing new minority parties arising. It comes in a very delicate political moment in Catalonia as a result of the economic crisis and the questioning of relations with Spain. The results will probably have effects in the rest of Spain.

The transcendence of the Catalan Elections goes beyond Catalonia and will have effects in Madrid. Prime Minister Zapatero is ready to lose Catalonia if he gets greater stability in the Spanish Parliament. However, Catalonia was one of Zapatero’s main assets for his 2 previous electoral victories. In addition, these elections may confirm the clash between Catalan and Spanish nationalisms, stronger in the last years.

The polls indicate change

The most beneficial polls for CiU’s interests give them the absolute majority by just 1 or 2 seats; the less beneficial give them a clear victory, with almost 30 seats of difference from the second force, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), currently ruling in a 3-party coalition government. In fact, the PSC is losing seats in all the polls and may face its worst results in all the Catalan Elections, getting around 30 seats. The other 2 parties of the ruling coalition are the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), and the former Communist and Eco-Socialist Coalition, Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds – Esquerra Unida i Alternativa (ICV-EUiA). The ERC currently has 21 seats and polls are indicating that they will get between 12 and 15. Today the ICV-EUiA has 12 and will probably get a similar result. The 2 Spanish nationalists and anti-Catalan nationalism parties, the Catalan branch of the Conservative People’s party (PPC) and the populist Citizen’s Party, may increase by 1 or 2 seats, getting 16-17 and 4 seats respectively.

3 new small parties

In addition, 3 new parties may get a seat in the Catalan Parliament: the 2 Right-Wing and populists Catalan Independence parties, Reagrupament and Solidaritat Catalan, and the Liberal Anti-Catalan Nationalism Alternativa de Govern. Solidaritat is lead by the former President of FC Barcelona, Joan Laporta, who has more possibilities of getting a seat than the other 2 small new parties.

And the Barça-Madrid…

Something that also had to be decided that same weekend was the football game’s result between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, the most expected match of the League. According to the competition’s calendar, the game was to be played in Barcelona that weekend, and the most probable day was Sunday 28th of November, Election Day. Catalan President picked the 28th of November to call for the elections knowing that the game was scheduled that weekend and likely to be played that day. However, other weekends were harsher for his interests, with the Pope’s visit for instance.

Finally, today, Jaume Roures, the media tycoon owning the TV rights of the football game has announced that the game will finally be played on Monday 29th, the day after the elctions. One of Roures’ reasons was: many people will be following the elections, as TV viewers or working at polling stations, and would not be able to watch the game.