A vote with a calculator in hand

The parties have to measure how they distribute the votes to secure the board

3 min
The empty Chamber of Parliament in an archive image.

One only has to have followed Catalan politics in recent years to know the importance that the composition of the board of the Parliament has taken. Debates such as those of 6 and 7 September 2017 to push through the disconnection laws, or marathon meetings on whether or not to admit a motion for a resolution under the scrutiny of the Constitutional Court, have been the focus of the political chronicles, and have given even more relevance to a vote - the first of the legislature - which for many years was seen as a mere formality that was more ceremonial than political. This time around it will be no different, and the election of the members of the presiding committee - which will have to take place on 12 March at the latest - has been playing a key role in the negotiations for the investiture for days now. What happens that day in Parliament will serve as a touchstone for the chances of success of the ERC's presidential candidate, Pere Aragonès.

In the event of an agreement between the three pro-independence parties, the 74 votes that ERC, Junts and the CUP have together -72 if the exiled Lluís Puig and Meritxell Serret cannot vote- ensure them a majority at the board with up to five of the seven representatives. And it could even be that one of these five will go to the comuns, if Jéssica Albiach's party joins forces with the pro-independence movement. The PSC would take the other two members of the board, leaving out Ciudadanos, PP and Vox. That will happen, of course, provided that the plenary session is reached with agreement between the pro-independence forces. A disagreement could open the range of possible sums and even deliver the presidency of the Parliament to the PSC.

The presidency

Pro-independence unity to block the way to the PSC

To choose the president of Parliament, each MP has to write a name on a ballot paper and whoever obtains an absolute majority is elected. In case nobody obtains it in a first turn, the vote is repeated between the two most voted MPs. If, as advanced by the ARA, the CUP wants to opt to preside the Parliament, it needs the votes of JxCat and ERC to reach the absolute majority. If Junts, however, rejects the agreement and refuses to vote for the anti-capitalist candidate -opting, for example, for the null vote-, the pro-independence presidency could be in danger. The sum of ERC and CUP would remain at 41 or 42 seats - depending on whether Serret can vote - and the door would be open to a PSC presidency, which could get a larger sum thanks to a unionist agreement: it has 42 MPs with Cs and PP, and would only need to convince Vox or the comuns to beat the CUP candidate.

The vice-presidency

The second vice-presidency may be of the Socialists

There are two vice-presidents in the chamber. The vote is similar to that of the president, all the MPs deposit a name in a ballot box and the two who get the most votes are chosen. In this case, independentism has enough strength to guarantee itself the first vice-presidency, but not enough to get the two vice-presidencies. Not even an addition with the comuns would allow it, since they would get between 80 or 82 votes -again depending on whether Puig and Serret can vote- which divided would mean 41 for each candidate, insufficient to prevent the PSC from getting a vice-presidency by adding to its 33 MPs, the 9 belonging to Cs and PP. The Socialists, therefore, have secured the second vice-presidency of the Parliament.


Vox can enter the table if there is no prior agreement

The vote for the secretaries is identical to the previous one but with four names to distribute instead of two. If each party voted for its candidate, they would be for PSC, ERC, Junts and Vox. That is why a pact would be needed to leave the far right out. The PSC raised it yesterday in writing at a meeting with the comuns, in which he proposed to "coordinate the vote, at least in the third of the votes", in such a way that the party of Ignacio Garriga is left out. Even so, if the pro-independence party agrees and distributes its 72-74 seats among three candidates, it has enough to keep three secretariats, fence off the passage to Vox - and let the PSC stay the vacant seat.