Anton Costas Professor of Economic Policy (UB).
19 February 2021
The challenge for Esquerra is to stop being a satellite and to be able to fix its orbit. Junts will make things very difficult for it, but it will come to terms because when you leave power you hardly ever return to it.
The idea that the Catalan elections of February 14 have not changed anything in the Catalan political scene is not a good analysis of what happened. Things have changed. And, in my opinion, for the better. Now, the effects of this change will not be seen overnight. A political life as convulsed and plural as the Catalan one cannot be asked for 180 degree turns. The turn will be like that of an ocean liner, which requires a wide turning radius to change course. We will see gradual changes, in many cases imperceptible to the eyes of troubled analysts or little familiar with Catalan civil and political life.
What do I use to say that something has changed on F 14? In order not to tire you, I will point out just three things. The first is the extremely high abstention that, beyond the pandemic and the climate, reflects fatigue and confusion, especially among pro-independence voters. The second is that ERC has won the birthright in the pro-independence world. The third is that there has also been a change in the birthright of the constitutional world, with the replacement of Ciudadanos with the PSC.
The replacement of Ciudadanos by the PSC will mean an important change in Catalan political life, both parliamentary and governmental. Ciudadanos played a fundamental role in the 2017 elections, acting as a brake on unilateralism at a time when it threatened to cause a civil fracture among Catalans. One has to thank them for that role. But as it happens in a car in which the brake pedal cannot also be used as an accelerator, now many voters who in 2017 voted for Ciudadanos to stop the independence movement have given their vote to the PSC to accelerate dialogue and concord among Catalans.
On the other hand, ERC has won the birthright to Junts within the independence family. And it has not done it in the style of Esau with his brother Jacob, for a plate of lentils, according to the Bible, but in a fair electoral competition. But now it will have to show that it knows how to manage it. It will not be easy. They may feel vertigo.
Until now, ERC was like a planet without its own orbit. Its political positions were influenced by the force of gravity exerted on them by Junts, the other great planet in the independence galaxy. And also for the comets that make up the CUP, the ANC and Òmnium. Now it has to show that it is capable of fixing its own orbit, making the other planets and comets in the system feel its force of gravity. This will be the first test to see if ERC has grown up.
The challenge that ERC has is being able to be the one who fixes the orbit. Junts will make things very difficult for them, starting with the formation of the Board and the election of the presidency of the Parliament. But if ERC knows how to play its new position, Junts will compromise. It is easy to understand why. The people of Junts know that when you leave power you hardly ever return to it. Without power, it would be diluted into small kingdoms of taifas.
After 14-F there will be changes, but progressive. Those who think that they will be fast is thinking in a Government with the socialists PSC, but that by now is an illusion.
From parliamentary arithmetic, ERC has two options to form a government. One on the left, with En Comu-Podem and the PSC. Another pro-independence, with Junts and the CUP. Those who want to see a quick turn are speculating on the first option, in its different parliamentary variants. It is an illusion. In life everything is possible, but not everything is equally probable. ERC will form Govern with Junts and CUP. Even if its leaders wanted to choose the other option, its voters would not allow for it.