Spanish officials privately concede renewed pro-independence government in Catalonia

Sánchez doesn’t see Illa leading next administration, while Endavant group rejects CUP entering power with ERC and JxCat

Pere Aragonès, Esquerra Republicana's candidate for the presidency of Catalonia (image from Ruben Moreno/Presidència)
Pere Aragonès, Esquerra Republicana's candidate for the presidency of Catalonia (image from Ruben Moreno/Presidència) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 17, 2021 07:09 PM

The Spanish government is already taking for granted that the next administration leading Catalonia will be a pro-independence alliance. 

After Sunday’s Catalan election, the pro-independence forces widened their majority in the chamber while also surpassing 50% of the vote share for the first time ever. 

With no single party winning a majority, it’s now up to the various groups to hold discussions over potential coalition deals that would see likely one of ERC’s Pere Aragonès or the Socialist Salvador Illa invested as president. 

However, sources from the Spanish government view Illa’s chances of leading the next Catalan executive as “very difficult,” given the results achieved by the parties in favour of splitting with Spain. 

The same sources are also convinced that such a government deal wouldn’t affect the agreement between ERC and the Socialists in the Spanish congress. 

ERC facilitated Pedro Sánchez being named as president of Spain after the last election in November 2019 by abstaining in their investiture votes. 

The Socialists are also pleased that ERC have taken the lead among the independence camp by gaining more votes and seats than Junts per Catalunya, as the Republican party are a lot more open to dialogue with Spanish authorities than their JxCat counterparts.

Illa to bid for presidency to ‘make victory clear’

Regardless of their private concessions, the Catalan Socialist leader Salvador Illa will still bid for the presidency in the Catalan parliament. 

The Spanish executive argues that beyond the results and the support available to the ERC candidate Pere Aragonès to become president, Illa will present his candidacy to Parliament. 

It will serve, they say, to make the Socialist victory in the elections clear, and also to prove to voters that a different majority is possible.

Endavant rejects entering govt with ERC and JxCat

Endavant, one of the most prominent social movements part of the base of the far-left pro-independence CUP party that won 9 seats in Sunday’s election, has rejected the idea of CUP entering government with Esquerra and Junts per Catalunya. 

Instead, they would prefer to see their MPs’ positions used “intelligently” as part of the opposition. 

At the start of negotiations with ERC, they reiterate that they cannot "be the crutch for cuts and privatizations" and "even less, endorse the idea that we will achieve self-determination through a process of negotiation" with Spain.

Calls for new leadership in Cs

Renovadors Cs, a group within the political party of Ciudadanos, are calling for primaries to replace Carlos Carrizosa and find new leadership for the centre-right party after the dismal results in Sunday’s election. 

Ciudadanos fell from 36 parliamentary seats to now holding just six, placing them as the second smallest group within the chamber from previously being the single party with most seats.

At a press conference on Wednesday, spokesman for Renovadors, the former MP Antonio Espinosa, said that the party "does not connect with society" and that "clean primaries are needed, without traps, in which candidates have all the same opportunities." 

Espinosa was also critical of the analysis of president of Cs, Inés Arrimadas, made of the results in the elections, accusing her of being "far from the reality." 

However, for the moment, they do not plan to contest the leadership of the party.

Former president tables PDeCAT-JxCat reconciliation

Elsewhere, the former president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, has put the idea of a reconciliation between the two centre-right pro-independence parties, PDeCAT and JxCat, on the table. 

Junts per Catalunya, led by Carles Puigdemont, officially formed as a political party only last summer when they split from PDeCAT, the heirs of the old hegemonic Convergència party that ruled Catalonia for many years in the post-Franco period. 

Now, Mas says “at some point” the two groups may have to overcome their differences and rejoin, warning that as long as this does not happen, the pro-independence centre-right will not have hegemony in Catalonia again. 

Speaking with Rac1 radio station, Mas explained that he would like to go to Belgium to do a "joint reflection" with Carles Puigdemont on the matter. "I will keep trying," he said, admitting that "now it's harder than before." 

PDeCAT didn’t win a single seat in the parliament following Sunday’s debate, and according to the former president, the decision not to run together in the elections was damaging for both parties. Mas questioned which carries more significance between the “inconvenience of forming an electoral coalition or being first in an election."