Carles Castro, 12 September 2021
An image of the demonstration called by the ANC in Barcelona Alejandro Garcia / EFE
The nationalist vote is now at its third worst level since the 1980 regional elections
The pro-independence movement is using the result of 14 February to vindicate its roadmap towards amnesty and self-determination. The last autonomous regional elections left the pro-independence camp with more than 50% of the votes cast, a correlation that has not been seen for decades. In fact, neither in the sweetest moments of the pro-independence procés (“el vot de la teva vida” in 2015), nor in the most tense and bitter moments (the elections of Article 155 in 2017), did the pro-independence parties manage to impose themselves on the forces opposed to the break with Spain. In both elections, secessionism fell below 48% of the vote, compared to almost 51% for its opponents.
In February’s elections, however, the more unilateral pro-independence movement did not reach 50 per cent of the vote either. It fell below 48.5%, the result of adding the votes of ERC, Junts, the CUP and the ultra-Catalanists of the microscopic Front Nacional, which attracted 5,000 voters. And to reach the 51.3% that some secessionist leaders exhibit as the endorsement that makes the unilateral consultation of 1-O 2017 the unrenounceable starting point towards independence, we must add the ballots of two splinter groups from Junts that are committed to greater gradualism: the PDECat (with less than 3% of the vote) and the PNC (with 0.16%).
The 51.3% of 14-F actually represents 27% of the electorate, ten points less than in 2017
Undoubtedly, the supposedly pro-independence majority shows a remarkable precariousness for the enormity of the objective of creating a new state on the basis of a society split in half. However, this fragility is fully appreciated if support for independence is measured as a percentage of the census vote (that is, of the electorate as a whole and not only of those who went to the polls in the last election). This measure is the true thermometer of the electoral muscle of a political option.
In reality, the 51.3% of pro-independence voters in the 14 February elections represents only 27% of the electoral roll (made up of just over five and a half million Catalans). This rate reflects, moreover, a ten-point drop with respect to the 2017 result, which seems to show the ceiling of the secessionist vote. And not only that. This percentage is the third worst record for the nationalist vote since 1980. In the first autonomous regional elections, the nationalist vote represented just under 25% of the census, a rate similar to that of the 2006 elections.
The problem for the pro-independence movement is that the opposition vote (which on 14 February accounted for 26.5% of the electorate, its second worst result in history) has come close to or even surpassed the 40% mark. This is what happened in elections such as those of 2015 and 2017, when the relationship with Spain became a dramatic dilemma.
From then on, the supposed pro-independence majority is nothing more than a fantasy. Especially if we remember that abstention broke records on 14-F (just over half of the electorate participated) and the pro-independence parties lost 600,000 votes compared to 2017. These are the true figures of the harsh reality.