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Catalan Government Sees Opportunity Amid Election Setback

Despite electoral decline, pro-independence forces hold key to next Spanish prime minister's investiture

Neither self-criticism nor any intention of responding to Sunday’s setback at the polls with an early election. The Catalan government decided the glass was half full and did not analyse the reasons for the poor results obtained by Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) this Sunday in the general election.

 It focused on analysing that the Catalan pro-independence forces hold the key to the next Spanish prime minister’s investiture, for which it advised Pedro Sánchez to “make a move”. 

“Catalonia, the pro-independence movement, now has the power and the strength to decide the next prime minister” said Patrícia Plaja, spokesperson for the Catalan government, 

After ERC’s electoral setback in the local elections, where it lost 300,000 votes, the Pere Aragonès-led party lost over 400,000 votes in Sunday’s elections and almost half the number of its deputies in Congress. 

However, the Catalan government avoided making a self-critical assessment of the reasons for the pro-independence movement’s decline and argued it is up to the parties to analyse the causes.

Demonstration called by the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) in Barcelona’s Sant Jaume square in reaction to the results of the elections to the Spanish Congress and the performance of the Catalan parties, in Barcelona, Spain, 24 July 2023. The ANC considers that the independence of Catalonia is the only way to resolve the national conflict between Catalonia and Spain. PHOTO BY MARC ASENSIO/GETTY IMAGES 

 “This government has good results, two consecutive budgets have been approved, progress is being made in all transformations”, said the spokesperson, who insisted that elections will not be held until February 2025, and simply admitted that “many things must be improved”.

Plaja justified Sunday’s electoral setback saying “polarisation has harmed the pro-independence movement”, but she also stressed that “the pro-independence movement is still strong and holds the key”. “It is essential if we really want to avoid a government led by the right and the far-right “, she said.

“Without respecting Catalonia and her voice, there is no government in the Spanish state”, warned Plaja, who reproached that those who spoke of an “irrelevant pro-independence movement today find themselves with a movement which has the upper hand, the solution, the only possible option for an alternative government to the right” and, therefore, “if that is what they want, they will have to sit down and listen”.

While it avoided talking about negotiating lines, the Catalan government “it would be very strange if Pedro Sánchez did not have the courage to take steps forward in order to form a progressive government”. Plaja insisted that its goal, from the very start, has been amnesty and self-determination, and stressed that the pro-independence parties have the obligation to make this result count. 

“If they want to return to the Spanish government, they will have to attend the demands of the pro-independence parties. They need the votes and that is what counts”, she reiterated.

When asked about it at the press conference, Plaja did not mention the agreement between ERC and the Catalan socialists to enter the Barcelona Provincial Council, which was announced on Tuesday, two days after the general election, but she did assess the request by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to reactivate the European arrest warrant against Carles Puigdemont.

 “It was the first move by the Spanish state after the election results. There are no new developments. All support for president Puigdemont in this new move”, assured the spokesperson.

Produced in association with El Nacional En

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