Catalonia sends a strong message and changes political landscape

The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition, ‘Convergència i Unió’ (CiU) wins. The Centre-Right forces get a clear majority in the Catalan Parliament. The governing Left-Wing parties collapse. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) gets the worst results in history, which could be fatal for Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero future’s re-election. The speech on immigration control, the economic crisis and Spanish identity gives the Catalan People’s Party (PPC) their best results ever in Catalonia. Catalan Nationalist forces globally increase their absolute majority, despite the collapse of the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC). A new populist independence party ‘Solidaritat per la Independència’ (SI), former FC Barcelona’s President Joan Laporta’s party, enters into the Parliament. The Anti-Catalan Nationalist Party ‘Ciudadanos’ (C’s) maintains its 3 seats. The Catalan Green Socialist Party (ICV-EUiA) loses 2 seats.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

November 29, 2010 01:53 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) clearly won the elections with 62 seats, getting a result just below the absolute majority, which is 68 seats. Artur Mas will certainly be the next Catalan President. The Left-Wing 3-party coalition, which has ruled Catalonia for the last 7 years, has been put to an end in a rotund way. Left-Wing forces lost the majority in the Parliament, which turned to the Right. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) collapsed, receiving the worst results in history. They lost 9 seats and got 28. José Montilla, the still current Catalan President and PSC leader announced his future resignation. The Catalan People Party’s (PPC) speech on immigration, the economic crisis and Spanish identity helped the party to become the third force in the Catalan Parliament, getting its best result ever in Catalonia, with 18 seats. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) lost more than half of its seats and passed from being the 3rd force in Catalan Parliament to the 5th position, with 10 seats. The Catalan Green Socialist Party (ICV-EUiA) resisted a drop of support to the 3-party coalition ruling Catalonia (PSC, ERC, ICV-EUiA) and only lost 2 seats, getting 10. The Anti-Catalan Nationalism Party Ciudadanos, consolidated its 3 seats. A new independence party, Solidaritat per la Independència (SI), entered into the parliament with 4 seats. It is the former FC Barcelona’s President Joan Laporta’s party, a populist force that wants to declare the independence in this term. The turnout was 60%, higher than expected by the polls.

The key points of these results

CiU will be able to govern alone, with a strong government. They will receive punctual support in the Catalan Parliament. They could pass economic liberal reforms with votes from the PPC and could agree on Catalan identity issues with the ERC and SI.

CiU will put getting a new economic agreement with Spain regarding fiscal regional redistribution as its main priority. It is a very complicated objective, as Spanish forces in Madrid and the rest of Autonomous Communities completely refuse, saying it does not fit into the Constitution. CiU may count on support from the ERC, and maybe support from the ICV-EUiA and SI. The PSC is unlikely to support CiU on this claim, as the PSC negotiated the current economic agreement only 2 years ago.

The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) got the worst results in its history. Its Secretary General, José Montilla, will have to decide if his succession is planned before or after the next municipal elections, scheduled in May 2011. These elections are extremely important for the PSC as the party rules the most important cities of Catalonia.

Spanish Prime Minister José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero faces a worrying lack of support in Catalonia with the PSC collapse. This support is key for Zapatero’s re-election. He won in 2004 and 2008 mainly thanks to the votes he got from Catalonia.

However, Zapatero may find an alley to pass new economic reforms through the CiU. CiU has 10 seats in the Spanish Parliament. Zapatero needs 7 seats to get the absolute majority. With the deficit reduction measures adopted last May, he lost the support of Left-Wing small parties. He passed the 2011 budget thanks to the votes from the Basque Country and the Canary Nationalists. However, they do not guarantee him to pass new reforms. Now, Zapatero has another force to negotiate with, as CiU will be far keener after recuperating the Catalan Presidency from the Catalan Socialists. CiU has given several proofs of supporting the Spanish government in crucial moments; the last ones, in May-June with the approval of Zapatero’s deficit reduction measures and the labour reform.

The People’s Party (PP) had an important victory. They passed from 14 to 18 seats, despite being the party that appealed to the Constitutional Court against the approved Catalan Statute of Autonomy. The PP has capitalised its speech, pushing for immigration control, claiming for Spanish identity issues and using the effects of the economic crisis. Catalonia was a lab for the PP, and it seems that the test delivered positive results, despite controversies and veiled populism. In the next municipal and regional elections in the entire Spain, scheduled for next May, they could focus on those arguments. They may also use the arguments against Zapatero in early 2012. In fact, Catalonia is a key element to win the Spanish elections and get the Spanish Government. It is likely that they will stop the clear Anti-Catalan arguments, which gave them good electoral results in the past.

Back to the Catalan scene, the Left lost the majority in the Catalan Parliament. As many other countries in Europe, Catalans waged for Liberal and Right-Wing forces to fight the economic crisis and foster the economic recovery.

In addition, after the trimming of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, Catalan Nationalist forces (including Separatist parties) have increased their absolute majority. A new Catalan seperatist party is in the Parliament, a party that pushes for an immediate indepedence. The Spanish Nationalist parties have also increased their votes, although they are still a clear minority in the party. Catalonia thus is more polarised.

The turnout was 59.95% of the people with the right to vote. This figure is almost 4 points higher than the 2006 elections and higher than the polls' previsions. NOTA votes (None of the Above) have almost reached 3% of all the vows.

The exact results

The results, with 100% counted votes, are:

- Convergència i Unió (CiU), 62 seats, 38.47% of the votes. They previously had 48 seats.

- The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), 28 seats, 18.32% of the votes. They previously had 37 seats.

- The Catalan People’s Party (PPC), 18 seats, 12.33% of the votes. They previously had 14 seats.

- The Catalan Green Party (ICV-EUiA), 10 seats, 7.39% of the votes. They previously had 12 seats.

- The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), 10 seats, 7.00% of the votes. They previously had 21 seats.

- The Populist Catalan Independence Party, Solidaritat per la Independència (SI), 4 seats, 3.28% of the votes. It is a new party, formed by former FC Barcelona’s President Joan Laporta

- The Anti-Catalan Nationalism Party Ciudadanos (C’s), 3 seats, 3.40% of the votes. They previously had 3 seats.