Socialists win Catalan election with broad-left wing coalition possible

Salvador Illa’s party would need support of pro-independence Esquerra Republicana to govern

Socialist candidate Salvador Illa assesses the Catalan election results on the night of May 12, 2024
Socialist candidate Salvador Illa assesses the Catalan election results on the night of May 12, 2024 / Jordi Borràs
Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | @pile_of_eggs | Barcelona

May 12, 2024 11:14 PM

May 13, 2024 12:58 AM

The Socialist Party has come out on top in the Catalan election, winning 42 seats, up by nine since the last vote, and taking 28% of the vote share across the territory. 

This is the first time that the Socialists have won the Catalan election in terms of both seats and the popular vote. 

Salvador Illa is likely the only viable candidate to lead the next government with a majority, should the Socialists gather the support of left-wing Comuns Sumar, who won 6 seats of their own, and left-wing pro-independence Esquerra Republicana, who came third with 20 MPs in the next parliament. 

The three parties combined won a total of 68 seats in the chamber – exactly the threshold needed for a majority.


In his celebratory speech at the Catalan Socialist Party headquarters in Barcelona on Sunday night, Illa confirmed that he will take on the "responsibility" to put himself forward for a presidency investiture. "Catalonia begins a new era," Illa said of the results in front of a jubilant crowd.  

Reaching a deal with Comuns Sumar is expected to be relatively straightforward, but earning the support of Esquerra’s representatives to name Illa the next president of Catalonia will be a lot more complicated. 

The Socialists are explicitly in favor of maintaining Spanish unity for Catalonia, while Esquerra have been part of Catalan governments over the past decades trying to split from Spain. 

According to Illa, one of the factors that led to the Socialists' victory is the policies of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who has taken on the challenge of dulling the independence movement since its peak in 2017.

Sánchez has managed this by taking an approach towards reconciliation with the independence bloc, including first offering pardons for the jailed leaders of the 2017 independence referendum and now a full amnesty for figures involved in the independence push. 

Illa waited until 11 pm to assess the results, when most other candidates had already spoken and with almost 99% of votes counted. He entered the room to chants of 'president' and 'long live Socialist Catalonia' sung from dozens of party members and supporters.

For Illa, the results will mean a "new era" for Catalonia, "and Catalans have decided that it's up to the Socialist Party to lead it." He added that this new stage "for all Catalans, no matter how they think or what language they speak, wherever they live, and wherever they come from."

The candidate mentioned the need to return Catalonia to a leading position within Spain economically as one of the challenges in the next term, and pointed to science and academia to "generate prosperity."