Government open to unprecedentedly hold election for more than a day

Cabinet does not expect a delay as opposition requests consensus and ensuring safety measures to vote

Meritxell Budó, government spokesperson, during a press conference on November 24, 2020 ( by Rúben Moreno/Goernment)
Meritxell Budó, government spokesperson, during a press conference on November 24, 2020 ( by Rúben Moreno/Goernment) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

November 26, 2020 12:02 PM

The Catalan government is open to hold the February 14, 2021 election for more than a day, which would be without precedent.

In order to do it, a legislation change would have to be passed – the cabinet spokesperson, Meritxell Budó, said in a Catalunya Ràdio station interview on Thursday that they "do not rule it out" if there is a consensus among parties.

"If we see that some of the mechanisms are not guaranteed enough and that elections must be ensured by extending their duration by one more day or whatever may be needed, if the parties agree, we are ready," she added.

What is already clear is that the vote will be held on February 14 as expected, after Budó said on Tuesday that this is the only date the government is working on.  

Some parties had raised concerns over a possible forced delay, while others had requested clarifying the date.

Ombudsperson in favor of extending vote duration

The Catalan ombudsperson, Rafael Ribó, presented a report showing concern over a possible restriction on the right to vote due to the pandemic if no measures are taken.

He called for all parties running to come together and join forces to guarantee the election.

Indeed, his paper suggested making an express partial Catalan electoral law before the parliament is dissolved in late December with this and other measures for February 14.

For 40 years, MPs in the Catalan parliament have been unable to find consensus in making an electoral law. Although Catalonia has powers to pass their own one, this has meant that the Spanish one has been in application.

Parties concerned about safety measures

Civil protection authorities passed a protocol on the measures needed so that citizens cast their ballots safely, including using pavilions instead of schools as venues, ensuring separate entrances and exits and election workers taking part in antigen tests and temperature checks.

The opposition parties have repeatedly requested for the government to act in advance and ensure the safety of the vote.

For instance, anti-austerity Catalunya en Comú – Podem requested for "all economic and technological resources" to be put in place so that everyone may exercise the right to cast their ballot.

For them, the government has "enough time" to prepare for any scenario related to the pandemic in February.

Leading opposition force Ciudadanos said that the measures have to be decided with consensus and with the go-ahead of Spain's electoral board.

The unionist party's leader, Carlos Carrizosa, rejected passing an express electoral law, like the ombudsperson had suggested.

As for far-left CUP, they are against any delay and demanded for "all necessary guarantees" so that everyone can take part.

Parties welcomed the announcement by the ministry in charge of logistics that mail-in ballots be available to request online for the first time; usually it must be requested in-person at the post office. However, they want to know how this would work in detail.