Politics 10/01/2022

Data reveals En Comú are Catalan government's main partner

They are the party that has backed the most governments initiatives and voted with it most often

Anna Mascaró / Joan Abel Yuste
4 min
President Pere Aragonès with the leader of the Commons to the Parliament , Jéssica Albiach, after reaching an agreement to approve the budgets for this year.

BarcelonaPere Aragonès became the 132nd president of the Generalitat thanks to the support of Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), Together for Catalonia (JxCat) and the People's Unitary Candidacy (CUP). But the difficulties in getting invested –after two failed attempts– already revealed his support was far from solid. Seven months later, the coalition agreement between JxCat and ERC is holding up by the skin of its teeth while in Parliament CUP is no longer their preferred partner. En Comú has recently emerged as an ally for the budget , but this relationship is not a simple anecdote: since the beginning of this parliament, it is with En Comú with whom the Catalan Government has had the best understanding in Parliament. The executive has had to overcome 21 votes between decrees and bills that it has taken to the house, seventeen of which have had the backing of En Comú (with 13 favourable votes and four needed abstentions). The CUP –9 votes in favour– comes behind the Catalan Socialists' Party (PSC), with 10 votes in favour and 3 needed abstentions.

If in addition to the government's initiatives, we take into account all the other votes that have been held in plenary sessions of Parliament, it is again the party led by Jéssica Albiach that most often voted with the government: 550 times out of 902 (61%). This is even without counting the 85 abstentions that guaranteed the approval of the budget and their accompanying law, a manoeuvre they agreed with the executive. At ARA we have reviewed all the votes held in the fourteen plenary sessions this parliament, as not even the House keeps a specific record: the count was done manually by revising of the sessions. As for the coincidences in all the votes –whether they are for, against or abstaining–, the CUP is ahead of the Socialists and reaches 58% against the PSC's 54%. The small difference between the three parties shows that the government does not have a fixed partner and, in fact, seeks different allies over the big issues: with CUP it agreed on the investiture; with En Comú and the PSC it will renew the Catalan Audiovisual Council, the Catalan Broadcasting Corporation and the Catalan Ombudsman, among other issues.

As voting against an initiative is not the same as voting in favour –which implies more consensus–, we have also calculated how many times the coincidence has occurred in the affirmative vote. Once again, it is En Comú that prove to be the government's best ally: they voted favourably together on 73% of motions. This figure contrasts, for example, with the percentage registered by the CUP: only 56%. As for the PSC, the figure is 72%. In fact, although JxCat and ERC have coincided more overall with the CUP than with the PSC, the socialists voted favourably alongside the government more often: 290 times with the CUP and 351 with the Socialists.

ERC and JxCat, coincidental

It is evident, then, that harmony in the government –the president Aragonès is seeking for a "broad path"– with En Comú has gone beyond the negotiation of the budgets so far in the legislature, despite the fact that Albiach's party had warned, when they were left out of the investiture pact, that they would be in opposition. There are even multiple examples of how the PSC, Junts and ERC coincide when voting despite the fact that they have not yet abandoned the belligerent rhetoric between them.

There has also been a lot of belligerence between ERC and JxCat, especially in public speeches, but at the moment of truth they have been able to maintain unity in Parliament. The two parties have coincided in 92.5% of the votes, 834 out of 902, and, of course, in all those directly promoted by the Government. However, with nuances. For example, ERC has voted the same as En Comú on 570 occasions, while JxCat has only done so in 552. As for the CUP, the Republicans have coincided with them in 536 votes; while JxCat has only on 526. On the other hand, JxCat's correlation is closer with the PSC: 496 times for ERC and two more, 498, for JxCat.

The triple right

And what about the unionist right? Despite sharing a discourse on the issues that most mark the political agenda, such as linguistic immersion and the Independence bid, and despite the fact that they have allied during the now customary confrontations with the Speaker, Laura Borràs, Vox, Citizens (Cs) and the People's Party (PP) are far from acting as a bloc. They have voted the same way 41% of times: 369 out of 902. The far right –as explained by the party– is used to deciding the direction of their vote freely, although neither Cs nor PP apply the cordon sanitaire that the rest of the parties subscribe to, which systematically vote against Vox's initiatives. However, and despite the fact that PSC, ERC, JxCat, the CUP and En Comú avoid them, there are also some coincidences. ERC has voted the same as far-right deputies in 26% of the occasions (228), and JxCat in 31% (276), often when voting against an initiative (in 166 and 182 cases, respectively). In fact, if the far right is characterised by anything, it is definitely for opposing. Out of all Vox's votes, 59% have been to vote against (535 out of 902). On the other hand, the PSC has voted in the same direction as Vox on 266 occasions; the CUP, on 199 occasions, and En Comú in 174.

Seven months after the investiture debate in which Aragonès was supported by the pro-independence majority, other dynamics have imposed themselves in Parliament. Although the CUP has maintained a relevant role as the executive's partner, it is no longer the force closest to JxCat and ERC: this role has been exercised above all by En Comú, without leaving the socialists far behind. "I am not content with the majority that will invest me president," said the president on May 20. The correlation has already changed.