Salvador Illa is not only the winner in votes and seats in the Catalan elections. He is above all the only candidate who can form a viable alliance around him. This is what ERC believes and, as if the electoral debacle were not enough, it has also obtained the poisoned key that could decide between giving the Government to the PSC or forcing a repeat of the elections.

Republicans need time to get over the situation. They have lost the presidency, they assume that they are leaving the Generalitat and also that managing this moment will not be easy. For now, they are trying to take off the pressure and emphasize that if the Socialists and Carles Puigdemont have shared opposition to his Government until now – something that is only half true since the PSC has supported two of Pere Aragonès’ budgets – they should agree between themselves. to get Catalonia out of the alley.

“‘Sociovergència’ has been imposed and ERC has lost, they are the ones who must say what they are going to do now,” they repeat from the party.

The idea that Illa and Puigdemont would have to look for each other is a story with which ERC is trying to buy time to relocate, reflect on possible steps and, perhaps, renew itself internally. But one thing is clear in the ranks of the Republicans: they will not join the maneuvers with which Puigdemont threatens and which would imply, among other things, obtaining the abstention of the PSC and, worse still, putting in check the progressive majority in the Congress.

This does not mean that the Republicans have decided what they will vote for in an eventual attempt to investiture the former president, but they are clear that the result obtained by both Junts and the independence movement as a whole does not enable Puigdemont to seek an investiture. What’s more, they see their calls to continue trying for an independence government as the first steps in their campaign for a repeat election.

Just as it is not decided, and it may not be for weeks, what the 20 ERC deputies will do when Salvador Illa undergoes an investiture session. “We will not be there to facilitate an investiture of the PSC and we will not participate in operations that require the agreement between PSC and Junts,” said Pere Aragonès in his farewell appearance, although the final decision will no longer be made by him.

The party Executive maintains a stony silence about the dilemma of what to do in the face of an Illa investiture, which sooner or later they will encounter, and resists tooth and nail to being dragged into taking a position on this. At most, some voices around Esquerra admit that the ideal scenario would be for the PSC to find on its own the necessary support to achieve a simple majority, which the Republicans could push with an abstention.

But this is not today, in the midst of an electoral hangover, a widespread opinion or consensus in the formation, where other voices consider that the situation has changed, because if before it was ERC that needed the PSC to govern in the Generalitat, now it is the socialists who need them doubly, in Madrid and Barcelona. “How was it that the conditions are not set by those who need help but by those who give it,” they say, citing a phrase that Puigdemont uttered last summer in relation to the PSOE, shortly before signing the agreement for Sánchez’s investiture.

Puigdemont’s maneuver

Although the biggest blow has been ERC, with the permission of the CUP, in Junts there was nothing to celebrate this Monday. Putting everything on the table, the party has only gained three seats compared to 2021 and less than a point and a half in percentage of the vote. These are figures that distance the independence movement from an absolute majority but also from any possible hiccup that involves a simple majority.

Despite this, Puigdemont believes he can pressure the PSOE with the majority in Congress to get Illa to abstain or, at least, this is what he showed in his appearance this Monday. “I see myself as president, otherwise I wouldn’t run. “I wouldn’t do theater,” the former president said. The PSC has already responded that he will not accept blackmail while the PSOE has come out to support Illa as the only possible option.

For the moment, PSC and ERC agree on at least one thing: it is in no one’s interest to run. The calendar of the new legislature gives a first margin to constitute the Parliament until two days after the European elections. Fair but sufficient. Aragonès’ plan is to rush it as much as possible so as not to force the parties to elect the president of the Chamber before the vote is taken in Europe. From there, he will be seen. ERC also has options to regain the position of head of the Parliament, although the PSC could want to favor other forces to tie them together or even try to obtain the presidency for itself.

With the socialists on the scene, all pacts are possible, even those that require greater contortion. Illa has at least three passable paths to becoming inaugurated president. The first, and the one that the socialist team prioritizes, is the sum with ERC and the Comuns. The second, the one that ERC suggests as natural, would involve an agreement with Junts. But there is still the possibility of signing a transversal agreement on the left and right, with the support of PP and Comuns, and then seeking the abstention of a fourth group, such as ERC or Vox.

There are, obviously, some arithmetics that are more improbable than others. But all the possible ones go through only two results. Either place Illa in the presidency of the Generalitat or have August 25 arrive without a president and a repeat election will be automatically called. At ERC they are betting on not being the one to make the decision but, if they end up being one, they affirm: “We will do what is least bad for us, knowing that there is no good way out.”


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