Decision on early elections is postponed until after November 9's consultation to guarantee its success
The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State CiU, Artur Mas, and the President of the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, met on Wednesday, after days of tensions among the parties supporting self-determination. The tensions have been mainly about how to raise the legal profile of the alternative participatory process scheduled on the 9th of November, which replaces the original consultation vote, and about a common platform to run in early elections transformed into a 'de facto' referendum on independence. According to Junqueras, the two leaders decided to work on making sure that the alternative consultation vote is "a success". In addition, he said that Mas had requested that he leave the debate about the early elections for the days after the 9th of November's vote, despite Junqueras insisting on an immediate electoral call.
Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State CiU, Artur Mas, and the President of the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, met on Wednesday afternoon, after days of tensions among the parties supporting the self-determination process. The tensions have been mainly about how to raise the legal profile of the alternative participatory process scheduled on the 9th of November, which replaces the original consultation vote. Left-wing parties, including the ERC, wanted to increase the democratic guarantees of such a vote and they said they still supported the previous consultation vote, which has been suspended by the Spanish authorities. In addition, there were also tensions about a common platform to run in early elections transformed into a 'de facto' referendum on independence. After the afternoon meeting, Junqueras told the press that they have decided to work on making sure that the alternative consultation vote is "a success". In addition, he said that Mas had requested that he leave the debate about the early elections for the days after the 9th of November's vote, despite the ERC's leader having wanted an immediate electoral call. Junqueras did not say if they will keep insisting on the need for an immediate electoral call, neither if he will meet again with Mas in the next few days.
This meeting was announced on Tuesday, after the parties supporting the previous self-determination consultation vote (also scheduled on the 9th of November) had been arguing for days about the new alternative vote and the possibility of holding early elections and running together in a pro-independence coalition. The 6 parties involved are the governing CiU – which brings together the Liberal party CDC (Mas' party) and the Christian-Democrat UDC; the social-democrat ERC; the Catalan green socialist and post-communist two-party coalition ICV-EUiA; and the alternative left and radical independence party CUP.
Increasing tensions between self-determination parties
The tension has been increasing over the last few days. During the weekend, the ICV-EUiA leadership stated "they will not vote" on the 9th of November, although later they nuanced their first stance and stated they would participate in the scheduled "mobilisation". On Monday the Catalan Executive had announced a pre-agreement with the CUP to restore "the technical unity" around the 9th of November's consultation vote, but the CUP denied having reached such a pre-agreement. A few hours later, the left-wing parties (ERC, ICV-EUiA and CUP) announced they were working on a proposal "to increase the democratic guarantees" of the 9th of November's participatory process. They also insisted on asking for early elections. Their aim was to reach a consensus among them and then share the proposal with the Catalan Government and the CiU. On Tuesday, the Catalan Government insisted they were open to dialogue with everybody. Meanwhile, left-wing parties were continuing to negotiate about such democratic guarantees. Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, the CUP announced they were stopping all negotiations with the rest of political parties and the Catalan Government in order to focus all their efforts on campaigning for the 9th of November's success. The CUP stated that the atmosphere among the parties was becoming "poisonous", debating about tiny details and tactics.
A meeting to reduce tension
With this situation, the meeting between Mas and Junqueras, who lead the main political forces behind the self-determination process, was crucial for cooling down the tensions. And it seems it worked this way. Junqueras arrived at the Generalitat Palace – the office of the Catalan President – at 4.30pm and left around 5:45pm. At the exit, the press was waiting for him and he emphasised that the only "firm commitment" is that they will focus on making sure that the 9th of November's participatory process is "a success".
Junqueras had asked Mas to call early elections immediately. However, the ERC's leader said that the Catalan President would prefer to wait for the days after the 9th of November. Mas' aim would be to focus the efforts and the public debate on making sure that the participatory process scheduled in less than 3 weeks is a success. Junqueras offered Mas his "absolute commitment" with this alternative consultation vote and its "success", he added. However, the ERC also want the Catalan Parliament elections to be held "as soon as possible" after the 9th of November and for this reason they should be called now. However, the Catalan Government and the CiU see things in a different way. They would prefer to start talking about early elections on the 10th of November.
Early elections on the horizon
In the last few days there has been great speculation about the creation of a shared platform between leading members of the civil society, the CiU, the ERC and potentially other parties supporting self-determination. However, according to Junqueras, he and Mas did not discuss this possibility in their meeting. In the last few days, the ERC insisted that they are open to creating such a platform with the condition that it will declare independence on the first possible occasion if it wins the elections. This means a unilateral declaration of independence by the new Catalan Parliament, issued in its first plenary meeting. However, parts of the CiU – mainly the Christian-Democrat UDC's leadership – do not want such early elections and do not support independence. In addition, the largest part of the CiU, mostly from Mas' CDC, supports independence and would go for early elections, running in a shared platform. However, they are reluctant to rush in declaring independence; they would prefer to start a negotiation with the Spanish authorities and the international community and, later, declare independence.
This seems to be the main obstacle for a shared electoral coalition between the ERC and CDC, open to independents and members from other parties. However, there are also rumours that there are disagreements about who should lead such a coalition and the names to occupy the top positions, although officially, such issues are not even debated now.