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Post Catalonia Regional Elections, February 14th
Created by John Eipper on 02/18/21 3:40 AM

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Catalonia Regional Elections, February 14th (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 02/18/21 3:40 am)

On Sunday, February 14th, regional elections were held in the Community of Catalonia, Spain. I confess that I am a little surprised that our Catalonian colleagues have not discussed this event, so I'll offer my own observations.

First of all, we must highlight the immense abstention of almost 50% of the voters, probably the result of the pandemic, but also and surely a sign of political exhaustion, not to mention boredom, as four regional elections have been held in the last eight years.

A second point worth noting is that the anti-separatist Socialists won the most support, with 23% of the votes, followed by the ERC, Esquerra Republicana de Cataluña, with 21% and in third place, JuntsxCat, with 20%.  These latter two are both separatist parties. However, due to the district voting system, the three parties received almost the same number of deputies, 33, 33 and 32 respectively. It is also worth mentioning that the extreme right party VOX gained 11 deputies, or fourth place.

However, the interesting thing is that the parties of separatist tendencies obtained 50.5% of the total votes, which from their perspective represents a great victory for the separatist cause, being the first time they have achieved an outright majority. It should not come as a surprise that they will use it immediately for propaganda purposes. Reality, however, has another side.

In fact, due to the great abstentionism that occurred, the separatist parties received some 696,000 fewer votes in relation to prior elections, and the opposition parties more than 900,000 fewer. This fact is indicative of the great indifference among Catalans.  From the separatist side this is significant because they are the much more motivated and activist than the opposition.  One should take into account, above all, the great control they possess of the official and private media, their propaganda capacity and the educational system with great potential for indoctrination and mobilization.

In short, the separatist parties won 1.3 million votes, far short of the 2.9 million they said they won in the illegal referendum held a couple of years ago, and the 1.9 million in the 2017 elections.

It remains to be seen what will happen now, what coalitions will form, and how power will be distributed. In my opinion most likely nothing will change in practice, as the separatist parties, left and right, will form a Frankenstein-type coalition, which has so far ruled Catalonia in recent years, without major changes or creating stability or economic prosperity.  They have not solved the real problems of the Catalans, but they will continue with their same aspirations of a referendum and total amnesty for their politicians in prison.

The only alternative, unlikely, is for the Left, Socialist, Republican and Communist parties to form a coalition and agree on a more consistent government. The fear is that the Socialists will grant more concessions, especially a new referendum, in order to gain access to power. Knowing the spirit and ambitions of the current Socialist president in Spain, Pedro Sánchez, I wouldn't be surprised by that.

JE comments:  One would expect the pandemic to suppress voter turnout everywhere, although last November the US saw its highest level since 1960 (62%).  There's one word to explain this.  Trump:  you love him or hate him.

This semester I'm teaching a course on Spain and should know these things, but at Week 6 we're still in the 17th century.  So I must ask:  how do Catalonia's two independentist parties get along?  Is there any chance they can parlay their 50.5% into a new referendum?

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  • Catalonia's Regional Elections: Looking at the Numbers (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/21/21 3:26 AM)

    As already mentioned by José Ignacio Soler on 18 February, I too was surprised not to see any comment on the regional elections from the pro-independence Catalonian WAISers. However, by scrutinizing the data we may understand why.

    It is not possible to celebrate such an election, as voter turnout dropped from 4,393,891 or 79% to 2,2869,070 or 53.55%.  This is probably due to the Covid pandemic, but are the people of Catalunya also sick and tired of the fight for independence?


    The results for the three independence parties: ERC 21.3% and 33 seats, Junts 20.0% and 32 seats, CUP extreme left 6.6% and 9 seats, for a total of 74.  The PSC got 23.0% and 33 seats, followed by VOX with 11 seats (good show), Podemos 8, Ciudadanos 6, and PP 3, for a total of  61.

    The Spanish electoral system is proportional and very complicated, with some kind of gerrymandering.  As such it may not be a true representation of the population's feelings. The independentists received only a total of 47.9% (Nacho Soler indicates 50.5% and I cannot explain this difference) but with 74 seats. Furthermore, we may even say that the total votes expressed by them are only 21.9% of those who were entitled to vote, but you can make the same argument about those who are against independence.

    JE comments:  Can anyone fill us in on how absentee voting worked in the Catalonian regional elections?  If it was not a straightforward and widely available option, this would explain the decreased turnout.  If it was simple to vote absentee, Eugenio Battaglia's conjecture is probably correct:  amidst a pandemic and a recession, independence is no longer the public's primary concern.

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