by Rosa Cullell
The PSC has returned to political relevance and leadership after a long journey through the “procés” desert. Salvador Illa, with a clearly constitutionalist and dialoguing discourse, has almost doubled the results obtained by the Socialists in 2017. The Illa effect means winning in votes in Catalonia, becoming the first political force and drawing seats with ERC. The PSC-Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya, founded in 1978 in a famous and plural Congress that united social democracy and federalism, has obtained 23% of the votes of the citizens, showing once again the strength of progressive and constitutional Catalanism. Even so, the most likely is a pro-independence Government like the previous one, with two parties that have been at odds for years, but that will hardly be able to ignore the PSC in Parliament, act without taking it into account or fall back into unilateralism and inaction.
If they do it again, if we have a Government with more of the same, the Catalan Executive would do well to stop unilateralisms and referendums. It cannot ignore that it does not have the necessary support to declare a Republic. The very prominent 51% of the pro-independence vote has been achieved in elections with a lot of abstention, which has harmed the constitutionalist parties. But Catalonia is still divided in two. An alliance between constitutionalist and pro-independence leftists would be possible, although highly unlikely. Esquerra leaders, who have finally surpassed JxCat, a conservative party heir to Convergència, fear being accused of “botiflers” [traitors]. However, the so-called “sanitary veto, the manifesto against Salvador Illa, is a wall that must collapse. For the good of governance and respect for the citizens.
The remaining fear, after such tied elections, is that Catalonia will renew four more years of division and misrule. The old pro-independence partners have not recently set an example of unity or government capacity, and its repetition may complicate economic recovery, in addition to further radicalizing the electorate.
The big loser of these elections is Ciudadanos, winner of the previous Catalan regional elections. In any case, the future opposition of PSC and Illa will not be as passive and unhelpful as that of C’s, which did not even present a government program. The march to Madrid of its leader, Inés Arrimadas, ended up making the party disappear in the Parliament, and the electorate has punished them for it. If Illa can, he will present an alternative government program to independence, even knowing that he is going to be defeated. The Socialists have obtained an extraordinary result, showing that they have a leader and sufficient support in Catalan society. The PSC has once again become a government party and the Catalan Government will need it if it wants to make changes in the Spanish State.