FAES Analysis Elections in Catalonia 

The electoral results in Catalonia are far from the analysis heard during the campaign which considered that independentism was “decapitated”. The secessionist triad of JxC, ERC and CUP achieved the absolute majority in the autonomous Parliament. Nevertheless, before this outcome, the triumph of Ciudadanos is an extraordinary achievement constituted as the expression of the civic mobilization against exclusion, silence and fracture. Ciudadanos has known how to interpret the exigencies of many hundreds of Catalans—more than a million—, has translated them into a recognizable political discourse and has offered them a proposal of hope and conviction.

The fact that Ciudadanos has stood out as first political force in Catalonia, both in the popular vote as in parliamentary seats, and that the popular vote of the non independentists parties has been higher than the secessionist one discredit the nationalists ambitions of assuming representation and the truly voice of the Catalans. When in September 2015 this party clearly surpassed the Partido Popular, we observed that Ciudadanos was turning into the preferential option of constitutionalism. We anticipated then that “the degree of division and divergence in Catalonia will worsen” and that “the secessionist process will continue and will do so even more radicalized since the most radicals have more strength”. Two years ago it could be confirmed “the consolidation of the division of the center-right space” and we request to “undertake a very profound period of reflection, to extract all the consequences and start working on it”. Therefore, there are neither coincidences nor relevant reasons which explain the electoral progression of this party.

It is obvious that the constitutionalist ‘useful vote’ has gone to Ciudadanos. Nevertheless, this, far from explaining the results of the PP, is what needs an explanation. Experience told us that any appeal to reflection in this sense will be dispatched with disdain, witticism or the usual reproach of inopportunity or disloyalty. At least, it would be necessary that the responsibility of the results will not be unjustly taken on the shoulders of the candidate. Moreover, it would be appreciated there is not insistence on blaming Ciudadanos for this bad result using the peculiar argument that this party has been voted by many Catalans, because this affirmation, for being untenable, discredits the one who makes it.

It is undeniable that there are decisions a Government must take despite its possible electoral effects. Applying article 155 of the Constitution has been one of them, and apart from the how and when it could have been applied, the Government fulfilled his duty by doing so. However, accepting that the responsibility for government and the electoral audience are totally incompatible is not evident. And if that was true, then it is not understandable that the almost unique message during the campaign of the PP was to remember the decisions taken by the Government. In any case, the Government will need to prepare for a political situation of an extraordinary complexity that will need to confront with better strategic, discursive and political equipment that the one it has had until now.

In this election, however unique they are, neither the Constitution, nor the validity of the rule of law, nor the rights of all Catalans as subjects of sovereignty, which protects all Spanish citizens, were submitted to a vote. The main responsibility of the Government and all the institutions, as well as of the parties placed in the Constitution, continues to be to guarantee those rights and the rule of law which recognizes and protects them. Only in the destructive calculation made by secessionism it can be consider that the results ratify the nonsense of the separatist process or erase the responsibilities of its authors. This is the first and more important message that have to receive those who did not win the elections —despite what they can sum— and who do not represent the majority vote of the Catalans, expressed, this time, with the guarantees that a democratic system must offer and that its citizens have the right to demand.

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