The latest opinion polls for the parliamentary election in Catalonia on 21 December suggest an outcome similar to the previous election in 2015: a narrow parliamentary majority for the separatists, but with a minority of the popular vote.
A 15 November poll gives the ERC 24%, Puigdemont’s people (running as Junts per Catalunya) 17%, and CUP 6%, in total 47% of the vote but 68-74 seats out of 135.
The non-separatist parties — in order of their electoral support, the neoliberal Citizens’ Party, the social-democratic PSC (linked to the PSOE elsewhere in Spain), Catalonia in Common (including Podemos), and Madrid prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party — are estimated at 53% of the vote.
But because, like most electoral systems, Catalonia’s gives bigger parties proportionately more seats in relation to votes, and the separatist vote is more concentrated in two big parties, the non-separatists would get only 61 to 67 seats.
The Citizens’ Party has called for an anti-separatist front, but the PSC refused. The ERC, the biggest separatist party, has suggested an alliance after the election with Catalonia in Common, which opposed Catalonia’s declaration of independence but also opposes Madrid’s imposition of direct rule.
Santi Vila, who served as head of the business department in the Puigdemont’s government, resigned because Puigdemont refused Rajoy’s call for the Catalan government to organise the new elections now being run by Madrid on 21 December, but has now joined Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya alliance, has suggested a policy of “independence from a position of moderation” after 21 December.
“I think we need to base this on three ideas: the defence of Catalan institutions, amnesty [for the Catalan politicians being prosecuted by Madrid authorities for ‘sedition’] and... a referendum that’s agreed on and recognised by the state and by international institutions”.
Short of a big electoral turnaround, it will be very difficult for Rajoy to refuse concessions after 21 December. And that is how it should be.
Even if Catalan socialists oppose separation, and many of them do, with good reason, the first job of socialists in Spain and across Europe now is to insist that Madrid recognise the right to choose of the people of Catalonia — their right to self-determination.