Catalans vote on Sunday focusing on the independence process after a tense campaign
Nobody doubts that the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) will win the elections again, but it is not clear if it will obtain an absolute majority or even lose some MPs. However, these elections are not so much about parties but they have de facto turned into a plebiscite on the Catalan peoples’ right to self-determination and the organisation of an independence referendum. If the parties defending the organisation of a self-determination referendum and independence clearly win the elections as expected, Spain would face its deepest political crisis of the last three decades. Knowing this, the campaign has been the tensest ever, including dirty tricks being played by Spanish nationalists against the CiU. However, many citizens will also vote while thinking about the last two years of budget cuts. Thus, left-wing parties supporting independence are likely to get more support.
Barcelona (ACN).- More than 5.2 million Catalans are entitled to vote in the 25th of November elections. Nobody doubts that the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) will win the elections again and the incumbent Artur Mas will be re-elected President of the Catalan Government. However, it is not clear if the CiU will obtain an absolute majority in the 135-seat Catalan Parliament, or even if it could lose a few MPs from the current 62 seats it holds. However, these elections are not so much about parties but they have de facto turned into a plebiscite on the Catalan peoples’ right to self-determination and the organisation of an independence referendum. If the parties defending the organisation of a self-determination referendum and supporting independence clearly win the elections as is expected, the Spanish establishment might have to seriously take a position on the issue. Either it will have to allow this referendum to happen by reforming the Constitution or oppose a peaceful claim that has been backed by democratic ballots. Furthermore, Catalan nationalist parties state that, if the Spanish Government blocks the referendum, they will try to organise it within the next four years by developing an alternative legal framework. In any case, the Catalan elections’ results and the reaction of Spanish nationalists are likely to provoke the largest political crisis for the last three decades in Spain, with potential consequences for the Eurozone and therefore for the world’s economy. This is why international attention has turned towards Sunday’s Catalan elections for the first time ever with this level of intensity.
Catalans will vote after the tensest campaign ever, after the Spanish nationalists have played dirty tricks trying to influence the results by issuing fake reports linking the Catalan President to secret accounts in Switzerland. This scandal has almost monopolised the last week of the campaign and caused the definitive clash between the CiU and the People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – despite both parties having passed austerity measures together in Catalonia over the last two years. However, after it was proved that the corruption accusations were based on a falsified document, this could have a boomerang effect and help the CiU’s electoral interests.
Furthermore, Catalans who feel more Spanish than Catalan are likely to increase their turnout and cast their ballot for Spanish nationalist parties, in particular the conservative People’s Party (PP) and the anti-Catalan nationalism and left-wing party Ciutadans (C’s). On top of this, Catalans who feel more Catalan than Spanish might be especially mobilised for these elections, increasing the number of votes for Catalan nationalist parties. The ingredient that could make the CiU and the PP lose support is precisely what they have tried to speak of less during the campaign: the austerity measures adopted by them over the last two years.
Despite the independence debate, many citizens will also vote while thinking about the last two years of budget cuts and the current economic crisis. The left-wing parties have tried to make these elections about the austerity measures and economic reactivation too, although it has clearly been overshadowed by the self-determination process. In any case, left-wing parties supporting independence are very likely to obtain more support, in particular the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA). In addition, the radical left-wing and independence coalition CUP could enter the Catalan Parliament for the first time, while the radical independence party ‘Soidaritat’ (SI) is likely to leave the chamber.
The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), traditionally one of Catalonia’s two main parties, with the CiU, is defending a federal and pluri-national Spain, recognising Catalonia’s nationhood. In this polarised scenario, following the PSC’s internal crises and having been in governments that could not manage the economic recession, support for the Socialists is likely to plummet and it could obtain its worst results ever. This could bring about a major change in Catalan politics, as it could plummet so low that it could obtain a similar number of MPs to smaller parties such as the PP, the ERC and the ICV-EUiA meaning that it risks not being Catalonia’s second largest party any more.