Catalan President will not form a new coalition with the opposition, nor with its current allies

The polls foresee a clear defeat for the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), led by the current Catalan President José Montilla, in the coming elections. The polls suggest that the PSC would not be able to reform the current and ruling 3-party coalition and may not be able to form a government at all. This past weekend’s news announced that Montilla would not repeat the ruling 3-party coalition. Today he clarified that a transversal coalition with the main opposition party and the most likely winner of the election, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Party (CiU), is also out of question.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

October 26, 2010 12:50 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) answered 2 of the main questions of the Catalan electoral campaign. After the elections on the 28th of November, the PSC will not try to reform the currently governing 3-party coalition, formed together with the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the Catalan Eco-Socialist Party (ICV). This weekend, the PSC’s leader, candidate and current Catalan President, José Montilla, announced that the current 3-party coalition had its time and that for the next legislature, a new form of governing would be needed. ERC’s push for Catalonia’s independence, would put the PSC and its Spanish partner, Prime Minister Zapatero’s PSOE, in a difficult position. The opposition thinks that Montilla's announcement reponds to electoral interests, as he also did so in 2006 and he finally formed the 3 party-coalition. Montilla also added that the PSC would not form a governing coalition with the main opposition party and likely winner of the elections, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Party (CiU). The coalition between the PSC and CiU has been a recurrent hypothesis since the last elections, when many were betting for this outcome to happen, but it did not. Polls foresee a large victory for the CiU, but absolute majority is not granted and most likely will not happen. Therefore, the CiU would need to govern in a minority position or form a coalition. All possible coalitions seem difficult. The one with the greatest support was with the PSC, but Montilla discarded it, saying, “it is not an exceptional scenario”. The CiU’s leader discarded the coalition some days before.

The coalition between the two main Catalan parties, which nowadays represent about two-third of the Parliament seats, is an option that arithmetic and the current economic climate could make possible. The CiU will very likely win the next elections, with a much larger number of seats than the PSC, which would be the 2nd party. Absolute majority is 68 seats and different polls are forecasting 56-68 seats for the CiU, which currently has 48. The PSC has currently 37 seats, and polls foresee a decline, which could lead the party to its worst results ever, getting between 28 and 33 seats. Besides, the 3rd party in Parliament, the Catalan Independence Party (ERC), which currently has 21 seats, may expect bad results according to the polls, getting between 11 and 13 seats. Finally, the 4th party, the Catalan branch of the Conservative Spanish People’s Party (PPC), which now has 14 seats, could get between 15 and 17.

With these numbers, the CiU could govern alone, with punctual agreements in the Parliament: the ERC for national identity policies and devolution agreements and the PPC for economic policies. Artur Mas, the CiU’s President and candidate, has not clarified these hypotheses, although he has denied any possible coalition with the PPC and a coalition with ERC seems unlikely. Besides, Mas said that a coalition with the PSC would not take place. Among the possible coalitions, this one is probably the preferred one by Catalan business class as it is the most transversal one. The CiU discarded it because Mas probably prefers to govern alone with punctual agreements and hopes to be able to mobilise voters and get the absolute majority.

The PSC discarded it today after Mas did so. To mobilise voters, it seems that Montilla has to stress that the only way to govern is to do it alone or with the ICV, the small Catalan Eco-Socialist Party. Nevertheless, this is not a likely option according to recent polls. Montilla officially put the coalition with the CiU out of the question because the “current times are not an exceptional scenario” that requires this transversal coalition, similar to the German Great Coalition.

However, some weeks before, Montilla said, “the next elections will mark an entire generation”. In addition, they are happening in the middle of the worst economic crisis in decades and with the relations between Catalonia and Spain questioned by a large part of the Catalan society, especially after the Spanish Constitutionals’ Court sentence that trimmed the Catalan “Constitution”, the Statute of Autonomy.