01/24/2021 00: 35Updated 01/24/2021 12:49
Queues of voters during the electoral day of the Catalan elections of December 21, 2017 EFE
What will happen next February 14 if “very intense public interest” prevails over “epidemiological reasons” and the regional elections end up being held on schedule? The poll published by La Vanguardia two weeks ago showed an ERC victory, in line with the average of the polls carried out in recent months. With an estimated participation of 64% (18 points less than in the 2017 elections), the Republicans prevailed with an advantage of between six and eight seats over Junts, although the party of Puigdemont and the PSC of Salvador Illa closed the gap.
This scenario presented, however, a high degree of volatility, with the unknown of participation as a vector that could finally alter any forecast. The volatility was born from the terrible assessment of the sovereign Government (which was suspended by almost half of its own voters) and from the advantage of the Junts candidate over that of ERC in the chapter on preferences regarding the future president of the Generalitat (an area in which, in addition, the socialist Salvador Illa clearly prevailed).
However, in a situation of high uncertainty such as that generated by the third wave of the pandemic, participation is an unpredictable vector. The precedent of the Basque and Galician elections, held when the country had already suffered the first wave, left a participation of 51% in the Basque case, and 49% in the Galician case.
What would happen if something similar happens in Catalonia and turnout falls to just over 50%, as it already happened in the 1992 elections? This scenario would mean that only those who had expressed an unequivocal desire to do so in the poll would go to the polls. That is, around 53% of voters. And in that case, the GAD3 survey data would allow a somewhat different estimate.
The stage for the independence struggle
A low turnout of around 50% could mean more votes for ERC but more seats for Junts
This scenario would allow the two main sovereign forces to govern comfortably, which would add 69 MCPs and would not require the always tough support of the CUP. However, such a correlation –with the aggravating circumstance that one party would have more votes and the other more seats– would leave the struggle for sovereignty hegemony unresolved and possibly open a stage of greater instability, with the election of the future president as the first and insurmountable obstacle.
The most favorable scenario for Esquerra
GAD3’s forecast one month before the elections gave ERC victory, but closely followed by the PSC and Junts. However, although unlikely given the evolution of the pandemic, it could also happen that participation in Catalonia did not fall as much as in Euskadi or Galicia, given the extreme polarization that the procés has caused in Catalan society. The GAD 3 estimate placed participation at 64%, but it would be perfectly plausible if it fell even less: for example, 14 points compared to 2017. And in a context of participation close to 68% it could happen that the combination, on the one hand, of the so-called “Illa factor” and, on the other, of the visible fatigue that sovereign voters reflected in the poll, generated an unequal mobilization.
In this case, it would be enough for two circumstances to exist for the final correlation to be reversed. In the first place, that only voters of that party who unquestionably manifested in the poll their willingness to go to the polls should vote for ERC. At the end of the day, the survey already detected an over-representation of the Republican electorate with respect to its real magnitudes of 2017. And the second circumstance would require that all those who, in the poll, expressed their intention to support this party to vote for the PSC (with the sole exception of those who confessed a low intention to go to vote on 14-F).
The stage for the socialist victory
An electoral turnout higher than 60% and Illa’s pull as president could give the victory to the PSC
In this context, and without the need to force excessively the decanting of the undecided with a history of voting for the PSC in regional or general elections, the Socialists would become the first force in votes (with more than 23% of the ballots), but also in seats (33). At the same time, the pro-sovereignty forces would find themselves again with the muddle of a tie in seats (31) and a difference of just one point in favor of ERC. The situation would be especially complicated because the pro-independence formations would retain the majority of the Catalan Chamber (with between 68 and 69 seats), but only thanks to the CUP. Again, therefore, a scenario of instability that would leave a decisive struggle unresolved and would threaten to force a repeat of the elections. In view of these hypotheses, perhaps the virus that is weighing the most on the electoral date is that of uncertainty.