Salvador Cardús

ERC and CiU

3 min
Junqueras i Terricabras, aquest dilluns a l'executiva d'ERC / PERE TORDERA

ERC's victory in the European elections is incontestable and memorable. It won in the provinces -pardon me- of Barcelona, Tarragona, and Girona, and almost equaled CiU in Lleida. It won in the four capitals and, among many others, in cities such as Sabadell, Terrassa, Cerdanyola, Mataró, Reus, Tortosa, Valls, Figueres, Olot ... It multiplied by 3.3 the number of votes, and by 2.6 the relative representation obtained in 2009. Any interpretation that plays down the significance of these results is unfounded, and it is impossible to minimize the enormous responsibility of ERC in the independence process. Meanwhile, CiU totaled almost 107,000 votes more than in the previous European elections; it maintained its relative representation -just 0.58 per cent less- and fell just 45,000 votes short of ERC. It's clear that it has withstood well the adversities of governing during hard times, but it's also worth noting that it didn't collect any points for having assumed leadership of the institutional process for the consultation, as we saw in the last Catalan elections.

BOTH RESULTS are especially relevant in the specific context of these elections. First, almost 550,000 more voters showed up at the polls than in 2009, which is a 28 percent increase in voter turnout. Secondly, this happened in the context of widespread skepticism towards European policies that has hit hard, to a significant degree, the larger ruling parties. Thirdly, these results were achieved under campaign conditions that were grossly unequal in the public media, where due to rules designed to blatantly favor continuity, the PP and especially the PSC-PSOE received a dramatically greater share of air time in Catalonia.

IN ANY CASE, with more than 60 percent of the votes, the future of the independence process in Catalonia -from the point of view of political leadership- is in the hands of ERC and CiU. For this reason it is important to analyze well the implications of the fact that ERC has surpassed CiU. And not according to the internal logic of political parties -as is usually the case with those who look to annoy them- but, rather, from the possibilities of success in the great challenge at hand. In this regard, I would like to say three things. One, that I believe it would not be good for CiU to seek consolation for the loss of first place in the fact that it has had to suffer the slings and arrows that come with governing. As is often said, having power wears you down, but not having any wears you down even more. And if it's not good because of the implicit victimization that goes along with it, neither is it good when it conceals other weaknesses of their position. For example, the weakness that Duran i Lleida brings to the credibility of Artur Mas' commitment. Or the frailty brought by having to drag around the pending business of alleged irregular funding and cases of alleged corruption.

SECOND IDEA: the institutional role of the presidency of the government hampers Mas' ability to take a more committed position on an independence challenge that understands little of subtle detail and, with all the reason in the world, feels impatient. Mas believes that, to guarantee the consultation, he doesn't have to move off of his defense of the right to self-determination. He's probably right. But most people who want the consultation want it in order to vote for independence. And, from this point, it's reasonable that with their vote they would aim more for the final goal than for formal procedural guarantees, critical as they might be. And three: ERC knows that without the consultation there will be no independence, and to get there they need CiU and Artur Mas. ERC's electoral advantage transfers even more responsibility to the republicans and it seems evident to me that, as Junqueras never tires of saying, they will embrace that responsibility without reservation.

AND WHAT AFTER 9 NOVEMBER? I have no doubt that, whatever happens, ERC and CiU will travel the final stretch of road together, closer than ever. Any warnings of trouble between ERC and CiU are just wishful thinking.