The ARA poll

Minimal ERC lead over PSC and JxCat seven days before 14-F

Esquerra (31-32) has the socialists (30-32) and Junts (29-30) on its heels

3 min

The campaign is half-way through and everything is still undecided. The strangest elections in the history of Catalonia reach the final stretch with maximum equality when it comes to defining a winner, with many votes still to be decided and with absolute uncertainty regarding post-electoral pacts. The ARA poll predicts a three-way technical tie with ERC slightly ahead, PSC in second place and JxCat in third. The Republicans would match the results of 2017, when they came in third, but it could be enough for them to achieve victory this time. With between 30 and 32 seats, the Socialists would follow them in the seat count in the Parliament, despite falling behind in number of votes and, with 29 or 30 MPs, the candidacy led by Carles Puigdemont does not lose track of the first position. Between ERC (21.8% of the votes), PSC (20.7%) and Junts (19.7%) there is not enough difference to be able to make a definitive prediction, bearing in mind that the margin of error of the poll is ±3.4%. Any of the three could win.

Equality is the keynote at the top and also at the bottom. The distance between Vox, which is consolidating its chances of entering the Catalan parliament, and the PP, is imperceptible (both with 6 or 7 MPs), and the same is true for the CUP and En Comú Podem (8 or 9). In no man's land is Ciudadanos, which all the polls define as the big loser of 14 February. The orange party, which won four years ago, could lose up to 25 seats and would have to settle for fourth place with 11 or 12 seats. The last doubt that the poll points to is the situation of PDECat: the party led by Àngels Chacón could obtain parliamentary representation, despite the fact that, for the moment, it would not reach the minimum barrier of 3% of the votes.

The undecided bag

What will tip the balance in the end? As always, those who are undecided, but this time the number of undecided voters is larger than usual just a few days before Election Day (22.4%). The survey, carried out by the Institut Opinòmetre between 1 and 4 February, shows two main groups of undecided voters, both of whom are pro-independence forces. Some 9.3% hesitate between Esquerra and the CUP, 9% between the Republicans and Junts, and there are still 5% who hesitate between the three parties. If any of them is able to capture the majority of these voters, they could benefit greatly. ERC is, in fact, the one with the greatest capacity for growth because it also has a relevant border with the PSC (4.4%). This is a double-edged sword for a catch-all party like the one the Republicans want to become, as it makes it difficult for them to focus their messages on a single segment of voters. 

What seems quite likely at this point is that the ERC-JxCat government coalition will lose support. At the high end of the scale of results, they would achieve 62 MPs, four less than they had until the dissolution of the legislature. In the event of repeating the formula, they would therefore need the support of a third party. It could be the CUP, which has already invested Quim Torra and also Carles Puigdemont, but the anti-capitalists have already shown reservations about supporting an administration that does not prioritise independence and social policies. In addition to the PSC and the emergence of Vox, the 'cuperos' would be the ones that would grow the most in Parliament. Adding the three and PDECat together, the pro-independence votes would reach 50.6%, a symbolic figure they have not been able to reach so far.

Sabater, the best valued

The CUP candidate, Dolors Sabater, is the best rated in a survey in which none of the heads of the list gets a pass mark. The former mayor of Badalona gets an average score of 4.7 - 7.2 if only CUP voters are taken into account - and beats Pere Aragonès and Laura Borràs, who are tied with 4.5. JxCat's presidential candidate has the highest score among her voters (7.5), but Aragonès generates fewer misgivings among the voters of the other parties, especially the PSC and the Comunes.

Jéssica Albiach (4.3), the En comú Podem candidate, is one tenth of a point ahead of Salvador Illa (4.2), whose rating has worsened considerably in comparison with other recent polls. The PDECat candidate, Àngels Chacón, ties with the PSC presidential candidate and is ahead of the representatives of the triple right: Alejandro Fernández (PP), with 2.5, and Carlos Carrizosa (Cs), who ties with Ignacio Garriga (Vox) with 2.2.

Everything is still up for grabs with seven days to go to see how intense the effect of the pandemic will be in terms of increasing abstention. The poll predicts a turnout of 58%, 20 points lower than the historical figure for 21-D.