Politics 15/02/2021

14-F gives Aragonès the presidency despite PSC victory

The triple tie breaks down with JxCat in third place and the pro-independence movement overcomes 50% of the votes

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The PSC has won the elections to the Catalan Parliament with more than 625,000 votes, but has tied at 33 seats with ERC, which collects more than 580,000 votes. The socialists' result is well above the 17 seats they had in 2017. The Salvador Illa operation has worked and has capitalised on the non-independence vote under the PSC umbrella, because the socialists have recovered 16 seats, especially in the metropolitan area, cities where Ciudadanos had won in the last elections. The latter, who were victorious in the 2017 elections, are shrunken on the map: they get only 6 seats, 30 less than in 2017. The setback is unprecedented: Cs has gone from first to seventh force in the hemicycle.

Although Illa has pledged to stand for investiture if he wins the elections, it will not be easy for him to become president of the Parliament. The two forces vying for the leadership of the pro-independence bloc have swapped and ERC has outnumbered Junts by 34,000 ballots: they obtain 33 seats versus 32. It remains to be seen what alliances are made after the attrition of the last legislature, but it is clear that if we look at the blocs and add the pro-independence forces, they revalidate the leadership and could govern comfortably in the event of a tripartite pact, given that the CUP gets up to 9 seats. The cupaires recovered from the decline of 2017 thanks to the leadership of Dolors Sabater.

The elections leave a record 74 pro-independence seats in Parliament (in 2015 there were 72, and in 2017 there were 70), when the absolute majority in the chamber is 68 seats. Independence even exceeds 50% of the vote. PDECat is out of the hemicycle, but gets more than 70,000 votes that, if they had gone to Junts, would have served to make Puigdemont's party the second force, well ahead of ERC.

Vox bursts into Parliament

In the non-independence bloc, in addition to the victory of the PSC and the fall of Cs, the news is the emergence of Vox in the Parliament, which would achieve extraordinary results, with 11 seats and becoming the fourth force. Alejandro Fernández's PP sinks to 3 deputies: with the worst result in its history, the PP is left without a parliamentary group. The PP has already reached out for a constitutionalist pact. However, if we look at the non-independence bloc, it would only have 53 MPs, far from the 69 needed.

Outside the logic of (anti-)pro-independence blocs, En Comú Podem has 8 seats, the same as in the previous elections. But even if all the constitutionalist forces are added together, the result is 61 seats, also below the absolute majority, so Illa's options are complicated if he does not want to look to the pro-independence forces.

Thus, the option remains of approaching pacts along the right-left axis, bearing in mind that ERC is a supporter of the Spanish government. If the mutual vetoes are removed, a left-wing tripartite would be possible with PSC, ERC and comunes, which would also have 74 seats, but this would imply that ERC would give the presidency to PSC. The Comuns have already asked for the three of them to sit at a table the day after the elections.

Lowest turnout in history

Despite the exceptional nature of these elections due to the third wave of covid, the day passed without any incidents other than queues at many polling stations. All polling stations were constituted normally at 10 a.m., and most citizens stated that the arrangements had ensured the safety of voters. Even so, throughout the day the turnout has remained lower than in the 2017 elections, which reached an all-time high of 79.09%. The turnout is below 54%, the worst in history. Other recent elections in Spain have also recorded their worst turnout figures of the last two decades, 49% in Galicia and 50.8% in the Basque Country.

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