There is a good chance that the pro-independence parties will win the election in Catalonia. If this really happens where this could lead and how will Madrid react? Read few comments.
Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Lecturer, King’s College London
Pro-independence parties will win a majority in the regional parliament and perhaps even an absolute majority. However, it seems unlikely that they will obtain over 50 per cent of the vote. On top of that, many Catalonians who don’t support independence won’t be voting, as they tend not to do when there are regional elections. Thus, pro-independence parties will have a majority of seats but not a majority of votes and certainly not society’s majoritarian support. Since, according to almost all polls and surveys, only around 20 per cent of Catalonians think that there can be an independence declaration without reaching 50 per cent of the vote, the new Catalan government would not really have any legitimacy to do such a declaration.
Therefore, I think that there will be a stalemate between the new regional government in Barcelona and the national government in Madrid, with one side claiming that it is legitimised to declare independence, and perhaps even doing so, and the other side claiming that this is not true. Considering that there are national elections coming up in November or December, I don’t think that serious negotiations between the Spanish and Catalan governments will take place until then. If anything, Spanish political parties will use the result of the vote and the steps taken by the new Catalonian government as an electoral tool during the upcoming elections.
Alejandro Quiroga, Reader in Spanish History, School of Historical Studies, Newcastle University
The truth of the matter is that nobody really knows at this stage. For some pro-independence parties, Junts pel si, an absolute majority of MPs in the Catalan Parliament is good enough to declare independence unilaterally. For others, the CUP, an absolute majority in the number of citizens’ votes is required. Polls are not conclusive at the moment.
But the main point is that the pro-independence camp have no elaborated plans about how to create an independent state. They say they want to negotiate this with the Spanish government, but, as you know, the Spanish conservatives refuse to do so. On top of this, there will be Spanish general elections in December. If the left is back in power in Madrid, then reaching some sort of agreement is possible, although difficult. Many Catalans want independence from Rajoy and his austerity policies but not necessarily from Spain. If the conservatives remain in power, the solution will be very difficult to find. The whole situation seems to be in a sort of cul de sac. But is a very tense cul de sac.
Francisco Romero Salvado, Reader in Modern Spanish History, University of Bristol
1. Yes, all the opinion polls indicate that the pro-independence platform will win the elections. Let us remember that the two key parties (there are other small factions and individuals in this coalition known as ‘Junts per si’) already had an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament (71 seats out of 135). If they don’t get the necessary 68 seats, they can (a priori) rely on the vote on the even more radical and independentist votes of the CUP.
2. Well, this is the million dollar question. Many still believe that some of the members of that coalition are bluffing and everything is just a way to put pressure on Madrid to get more concessions. I’m not sure thought that they can go back after the intoxication, manipulation and polarization of the last couple of years.
However, I must conclude that everything will depend on the result of the Spanish general elections in December. My money is (not a lot though) that there will be some kind of deal next year with whoever wins in Spain. It is evident for everybody but for the indoctrinated that control the independentist coalition that there is no significant support for any unilateral decisions and that Catalonia would be outside of the EU.
Héctor Sánchez Margalef, Research Assistant, CIDOB, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs
Reality is that nobody knows for certain and the only think we can do is to speculate. First of all there is a small possibility that pro independence parties do not get enough seats (hidden vote). Do not forget that polls have recently failed in Greece and in United Kingdom.
Pro-independence forces are looking for majority of seats, not votes, in order to proclaim independence. This is risky because the no independence forces are more fragmented and offer different things (from a federalist solution to leaving things the way they are, passing by a different tax collecting system); however, it is impossible to ignore that if they do not win in votes, claiming that Catalonia wants independence would not be completely true.
How will Madrid react is a mystery. One one hand, a response according to the law (suspending autonomy and even arresting the president of Catalonia) will enrage Catalans even more. On the other hand, Spain’s president is not known for being a man of action so probably he will wait because it even could be at stake the general elections where he runs for reelection. For me the most likely scenario is that there will be a compromise or pact between the two parts, but probably after general elections.
Carsten Humlebæk, Assistant Professor, Department of International Culture and Communication Studies, Copenhagen Business School
If the common list for a yes wins (which is possible although perhaps not very likely) or if it makes up a majority together with CUP (which is also in favor of independence, but not part of the common list), Artus Mas has to fulfill his promise to begin his 18-month road-map towards Independence. That it will actually lead to independence of Catalonia is not very likely, since the democratic mandate remains weak – there is no majority among the people of Catalonia in favor of independence, even if the parties in favor of independence may make up a majority in Parliament. Therefore is unlikely that the Catalan independence will find support from any international leader and the Madrid government is likely to continue stalling the efforts of a renewed Mas-government by appealing every single initiative to the Constitutional Court.
I therefore see a continuation of the current conflict as the most likely outcome. The biggest incognita actually remains the outcome of the upcoming general elections in Spain which most likely will see a new government come into power. This might change the climate of the conflict, at least in one of ‘camps’ so to say.