Catalan election to be delayed, May 30 new date
Parties find consensus in postponing vote due to Covid-19, but discrepancies remain regarding when to hold it
The Catalan election will be delayed after an all-party summit in Parliament on Friday found consensus in the need to postpone, as Catalonia is currently facing a sharp worsening of the health crisis.
According to government sources, given the agreement, the interim president, Pere Aragonès, proposed during the meeting to hold the vote on May 30 instead.
Yet this was a matter of discrepancies during the summit, as the Socialists defend that polling stations should open either on March 14 or on March 21.
Socialists might take issue to court
However in the end, a "majority" of parties accepted May 30 as the new date, according to several parliamentary sources, but it is understood that the Socialists still insist on the need to not wait as much time.
The Socialist party, which soared in the polls after changing presidential candidate and picking Spain's health minister Salvador Illa, was initially reluctant to a vote delay. Yet, on Thursday evening, they reconsidered their position.
Party leader and initial candidate Miquel Iceta criticized the delay. "It is not a response to epidemiologic reasons," he said, not ruling out taking the move to courts if changes in electoral lists are allowed.
The Socialist-led Spanish government avoided commenting on the delay on Friday, one day after Spain's justice minister, Juan Carlos Campo, said it would be "serious for democracy" to put it off.
Most opposition parties agree
Other opposition parties, such as Ciudadanos and Catalunya en Comú, expressed their agreement after the summit.
"Common sense has prevailed," said Cs leader, Carlos Carrizosa.
"Yes to May 30 and to a safe election, this way we are guaranteeing the right to health and to vote," said Jéssica Albiach's Catalunya en Comú - Podem.
The People's Party agree on the change, but its leader, Alejandro Fernández, said the move has been orchestrated by former president Carles Puigdemont for electioneering reasons and urged for the government to avoid it happening again.
Far-left CUP also accepted the delay, with its candidate Dolors Sabater not against May 30.
Confirmation on Friday at 5 pm
Aragonès called an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Friday at 5 pm, when ministers are expected to discuss the legal mechanisms that allow the vote to be suspended and confirm the new date.
Only a few weeks ago, the election postponement seemed highly unlikely, especially one following an agreement across party lines, but a third wave of Covid-19 infections and rising hospitalizations triggered the alarm. Last Monday, Catalonia reported 6,981 new cases, the highest daily increase since the pandemic started.