Abstention increases in all municipalities except one
Almost 2.5 million Catalans turned their backs on the February 14 election. The erosion of the “procés” and the effects of a year of pandemic managed to demobilize the population and beat the abstention record in the history of the elections to the Parliament of Catalonia with 46.5% of the census that did not go to the polls.
To be more precise, 41% of the 947 Catalan municipalities registered a record of abstention and 79% registered the lowest participation figure in the last 15 years. Although the decline in participation has occurred in a generalized way, there are notable differences between some areas and others.
The trend is, as we see, irrefutable, although abstention has not punished all political parties equally. Or put another way, not all voter profiles have suffered the same degree of demobilization. Although the post-electoral surveys will be decisive in determining the profile of the abstentionist, crossing the results by census section with the sociodemographic variables allows us to approach the question.
This is the case of the paradigmatic municipality of El Montmell, the town that registered the highest increase in abstention in all of Catalonia. While 27% of the registered population abstained in the 2017 elections, 67% did so on 14-F.
In the municipalities with the most pro-independence vote, participation falls less
The data available about this town, allow us to appreciate the reality and the socioeconomic profile of the neighbor of this municipality of Baix Penedès: an income per household of 22,000 euros, more than 30% of workers belonging to builder’s sector, a notable percentage unemployment (over 40%) and a particularly dramatic drop in the vote for Ciudadanos, winners of the elections in the municipality in 2017.
On the other side of the spectrum, the reality of an enclave like Sant Pere Sallavinera, in l’Anoia, contrasts. This town of just 155 inhabitants registered 15% abstention, which was an increase of less than 1% in relation to the last elections.
In areas with higher incomes and a majority vote for independence, the blow to participation was mitigated
In this case, in addition to having a lower number of inhabitants, we observe a substantial difference in income with respect to El Montmell, which stands here at 41,000 euros per household.
The contrast is completed by an absolute dominance of the services sector, in terms of occupation, and a maintenance of support for the independence project.
Abstention is triggered in those census sections with lower incomes
Relationship between the difference in abstention 2021-2017 and the average income between the census sections of the counties in the Barcelona area
Because while in the population of the Baix Penedès the most voted force went from Ciudadanos to socialist PSC, in Sant Pere Sallavinera Junts per Catalunya has remained as the formation with the most votes in both elections.
Far from being anecdotal examples, the comparison between El Montmell and Sant Pere Sallavinera corresponds to the archetype of what happened on a large scale in the whole of Catalonia.
79% of the municipalities recorded the lowest participation figure in the last 15 years
The decline in participation was accentuated in those municipalities and census sections with the lowest incomes and with the greatest strength of the non-independence vote.
In contrast, in areas with higher incomes and a traditional pro-independence vote, the coup was much more attenuated, as was the disaffection towards the formations that had been victorious just over three years ago.
If we focus on the regions of the Barcelona area, one of the best examples of this situation is found when contrasting the workers neighborhood of El Pomar de Badalona, against the neighborhood of the Eixample of Sant Cugat, one of the richest towns of Catalonia.
The census sections that make up el Pomar neighborhood are among those that register the most abstention in all of Catalonia: with an income that ranges around 23,000 euros per year per household, in the 2017 elections, between 15 and 22% of the population abstained. population, while now abstained about 70%. Again, this reality has been accompanied by a precipitous drop of support for Ciudadanos.
In 41% of the Catalan towns a record of abstention was broken
On the other hand, in the aforementioned area of Sant Cugat, abstention has been 24%; a difference of 14 points compared to that of 2017. In addition, its income per household is infinitely higher than that of the Pomar neighborhood, up to 80,000 euros, and the party with the most registered votes is once again pro-independence Junts per Catalunya.
Thus, although abstention has been present in practically all census sections and municipalities, there is an abstentionist profile that stands out above the rest and that can be defined as that of a neighbor of areas with economic difficulties and a majority tendency to vote no-independentist.
And this contingent of abstentionists, in a context of decline of Ciudadanos in those areas, has not been able to fully mobilize neither with the emergence of Vox – especially marked in these census sections – nor with the recovery of Catalan socialists.
We said at the beginning that the wear and tear produced by the pro-independence process and the effects of a year of pandemic stand as fundamental factors to explain the abstention on Sunday, and it is so. But they are especially so in less wealthy areas that have punished the main opposition party not going out to vote.