Catalan nationalists are stronger than ever despite the social victory …

Oriole Junckeiras, the leader of the left-wing nationalist ERC party, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison, was allowed to leave prison to attend several election rallies.
Photo: AFP

For the first time in ten years, the Socialists became again the largest party in Catalonia. Nevertheless, the taste of winning the regional parliamentary elections on Sunday is bittersweet. Not only is the far-right Vox party entering the regional parliament, but for the first time the three parties fighting for independence have also gained a majority. One man now holds the key: Oriole Junkyras. But he is currently serving a prison sentence in Madrid.

Anyone who thinks that the Coronavirus pandemic and the dire economic consequences will kill Catalan nationalism in the neck is in trouble. On the contrary, the Catalan separatists for the first time managed to rally the majority of the electorate behind them, 51 percent to be exact. All three of them now occupy 74 of the 135 regional parliament seats in Barcelona.

Catalan nationalists are stronger than ever, despite the socialists' victory: one man holds the key, but he's in prison
Exiled Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont, in exile in our country, addressed his supporters via video conferencing.
Photo: EPA-EFE

All eyes are on Junkyras

Run, you think, but it’s not that simple. Because since the referendum that Spain banned on October 1, 2017 and the unilateral declaration of independence a few weeks later, things are no longer going between the two largest separatist parties in Catalonia, the right-wing liberal party Yunus in Catalonia (32 seats). Minister President Carles Puigdemont and left-wing Republican ERC (33 seats) to former Deputy Prime Minister Oriole Junquires. Puigdemont lives in exile in our country and remains a hard-line supporter, and Junqueras sees greater value in dialogue with the government in Madrid.

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Jonqueras may already be serving a 13-year sentence for his role in the referendum, but his party holds the key. The voter shuffled cards in such a way that the ERC (+1 seat), together with Junts per Catalunya (-2) and the small anti-capitalist CUP (+5), reached 74 seats. So the majority. But it also cracked as if the ERC would form a coalition with the Social Democratic PSC (+16) and the radical left wing En Comú Podem (the status quo). The Peace and Security Council chaired by former Health Minister Salvador Illa was the largest.

Catalan nationalists are stronger than ever, despite the socialists' victory: one man holds the key, but he's in prison
Former Health Minister Salvador Illa was sent into the line of fire by Prime Minister Sanchez to block the national majority: this plan is only partially successful.
Photo: AFP

Pardon and autonomy

Salvador Ella will do everything in his power to persuade the Equity and Reconciliation Commission of Junqueras to exchange arms for his national comrades for the Left Alliance. Immediately the dream scenario of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. In Madrid, it leads a left-wing minority government from the Social Democratic Party (PSOE) with the radical left wing Podemos Unidas, and has already received regular support from the same ERC in the Spanish Parliament.

However, this race was far from over. Last week, Jonqueras promised other nationalists not to break the front: “Spain and Catalonia are different countries. In Catalonia we will not rule by socialists”.

Pere Aragon, the leader of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission, and in the absence of Junkyras’ candidate prime minister, said: “We can reach an absolute majority with the nationalists. Pardon of political prisoners and “more autonomy”, the dream of Catalonia’s independence, far from death and burial.

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Denton Watson

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