Sunday, November 25, 2012

Catalan Regional Election Results 2012

So is this it, crunch day for Cataluña as it decides its future relationship with Spain? Well no, not really. We are treated to yet another early election called, as in the recent case of Galicia, for opportunistic reasons. Which is not to say that today's elections won't be something of a turning point, it's just that it would not be fair to judge the results purely as a verdict on the future status of Cataluña. But such is the game being played by regional president Artur Mas that nobody can be sure that anything will happen in terms of a future sovereignty vote, even if he gets his desired overall majority. That majority is what this election is really about, Mas decided to try and ride the wave of nationalist sentiment surrounding the huge march in Barcelona on September 11th to try and get the majority government that he couldn't get last time around in 2010. 

Mas and his party, Convergència i Unió (CiU), have never been in favour of Catalan independence, and the language he has used in the campaign to refer to the national question has been deliberately ambiguous. It's not hard to foresee that he could disappoint an awful lot of people if he gets his desired result. Not the for the first time, and it's not that easy to feel much sympathy for those who allow a bit of demagogic, flag waving, populist tub thumping rhetoric to triumph over the reality of their own experience.  Mas runs a right wing government that cuts welfare services at the same time as reducing taxes for the better off. To then plead that there is no money to pay for essential services because of Spain seems blatantly ridiculous but you can hardly blame him for doing so given that it seems to work?  

The campaign against the austerity measures so enthusiastically embraced by Mas and company has been effectively destroyed by his suceess in turning it into an issue of Cataluña versus Spain. Some polls have shown Mas getting the majority he wants and others have shown him falling short, there is no consistent picture. What does seem evident is that there will be a significant collapse in support for the PSC, Catalan wing of the PSOE. Although this will also undoubtedly be attributed to nationalist issues as well it really forms part of a broader national pattern. This is all terribly flattering to the governing Partido Popular, some polls have even suggested the extraordinary outcome of the PP becoming the second biggest party in a region where its supporters have occasionally been able to fit in the largest model in the SEAT range. 

As in Galicia, where the PP lost a significant number of votes but won a larger majority on a smaller share, the collapse in the socialist vote makes the PP look stronger because of their ability to mobilise more of their core vote. For the other parties it looks like there will be some revival for Esquerra Republicana (ERC), who have resolved their attempts to combine left wing and nationalist politics in a faintly ridiculous way; they now consider themselves to be left wing in the national parliament and nationalist when playing at home. Another beneficiary of disenchanted left wing votes could be Iniciativa per Catalunya, although much of the traditional socialist vote looks destined for abstention The results, as usual, will not be known before 20:00 Madrid time. The results widget, courtesy of El País.


Tom said...

I don't agree that CiU has never been in favour of independence.

Graeme said...

My understanding has always been that Unió, in particular, are against it.

Anonymous said...


Menos es Mas.

ERC = 21. Some revival that is indeed.

On paper
nationalism/separatism has won. But that would the same as taking for granted that everybody who now voted for CiU is a separatist. Would these people continue voting for CiU if Mas links up with ERC and CUP? I think not.

As a non-catalan I have been following all this with a lot of anxiety. For me it would be sad if Catalonia goes but it would be better to have a scottish/quebec style referendum, independence yes or no? But it is truly not the best of times for that. And as someone who is in favour of the Euro and Europe I have an intense dislike for nationalists, including the bigots in Madrid.

I think spaniards of all colours will have to change their attitude towards those that are (slightly) different.

Perhaps, it is the time for me to entone a mea culpa for all those years having a laugh with jokes about catalans and basques, and saying things like "Barcelona is beautiful but full of Catalans" and pretending that we don't care if they leave (not true). Perhaps, we should try to put ourselves in their place. Maybe, were I a catalan I would also be vying for independence as well, after all being a Spaniard is not that marvellous either.

As for Mas: can someone please take away the corpse? The stench is becoming unbearable.

Anonymous said...


Graeme said...

I don't think Mas is going anywhere Moscow, although his political credibility is taking an extended break. I hope to find time today to write a post on the elections, there's really quite interesting messages from these results and not just for Mas. There's certainly no grounds for claiming a pro-independence majority there, it's just not possible to claim all votes for CiU as being in favour of independence. If you look at votes cast as opposed to seats won it gets more interesting.

ejh said...

There's certainly no grounds for claiming a pro-independence majority there

I wouldn't rely on that stopping anybody.

Graeme said...

Certainly not if they have the same level of maths ability that the PP showed in the debate the other day.