Lluís Orriols 16/02/2021
Esquerra and its transversality
In a parliamentary democracy, elections are not won by whoever gets the most votes but who can build majorities in Parliament. The first position in votes only has a symbolic value if you do not have the necessary partners to be able to govern. There is no doubt that the PSC has obtained an extraordinary result that definitively marks the end of the socialist crisis, but Illa’s options to be able to overcome an investiture are nil. The impermeable bloc politics in which Catalan politics have been installed in the last decade limits the PSC’s ability to reach those majorities that were possible in the past.
From a parliamentary logic, it is ERC and not the PSC who has achieved the first position on the electoral podium. ERC’s victory is a milestone in Catalan politics, since it had never led the independence bloc in regional elections. Part of ERC’s recipe for success is its ability to establish itself in Catalonia in a more homogeneous way than Junts per Catalunya. Certainly, Junts has doubled Esquerra in votes in independence fiefdoms such as Vic or Banyoles. But in municipalities of the metropolitan area such as Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Cornellà or l’Hospitalet del Llobregat, ERC stands as a second force, while JxCat has a marginal presence.
Esquerra is still a long way from achieving this transversality in the national dimension that CiU achieved.
In a way, you might think that ERC is achieving its coveted goal of “broadening the base.” However, we would fall into a mistake if we included that its more homogeneous territorial implantation implies that Esquerra has a relevant presence both among voters who feel Catalan and with those who feel Spanish. Electoral polls show a reality far removed from that scenario: ERC continues to be an irrelevant party among those who have an essentially Spanish or mixed identity.Indeed, ERC is still a long way from achieving that transversality in the national dimension that CiU achieved. In 2010, just before the start of the sovereign process, Convergència attracted 20 percent of voters with a Spanish national identity and 35% of those with a Catalan and Spanish identity. These figures are unthinkable today. ERC’s base is widening, but it has nothing to do with the pal de paller that CiU once represented in Catalan politics.
Yesterday ERC won the tough fight open in the independence space, but the battle is still far from over. As long as the policy of waterproof identity blocks is maintained in Catalonia, JxCat will continue to be a difficult rival to beat.