Management or restitution? It seems like a simplistic dilemma, but in Catalan politics, where the goal of achieving independence in 18 months triumphed, the reappearance for the third time of Carles Puigdemont as a Junts candidate, promising, once again, that if he has a chance of being invested he will return. to Catalonia, places the next campaign in the emotionality from which the socialists and in part also ERC want to escape, and which benefits not only the post-convergents but also the PP.

The surveys provide clues but nothing resembling a certainty. The first that was published after the announcement of the electoral advance was that of GESOP for ‘El Periódico’ and it confirmed the demobilization due to elections that were not expected now, with the PSC in first position with a slight rise and a bitter dispute between ERC and Together for second position. Come on, a scenario very similar to that of 2021 and with the pro-independence majority at real risk.

The ghost of the loop from which Catalan politics finds it so difficult to escape is lurking again. In this barometer, it was striking that 21% of those surveyed preferred Puigdemont while those who opted for Salvador Illa were 18.1%. 16.3% pointed to Pere Aragonès.

That the process is over has even been recognized in public by some pro-independence leaders. Something different is the processism, the rhetoric based on promises like that of another referendum (without explaining how it will be achieved) and the appeals to 2017, seven years later. It’s about finishing the job, summarized in Junts. As if it were a trip to the past, even if only in the spirit (and the ballot) of many pro-independence voters who still wonder what went wrong.

“The amnesty law is as possible as the self-determination referendum is,” Puigdemont proclaimed when confirming that he will be a candidate again because he aspires to be restored to a position that he considers was unjustly taken from him in application of article 155. Although The socialists flatly deny that they are willing to negotiate a consultation of this type, the Junts leader’s strategy is ammunition for those who think that Pedro Sánchez has gone too far in his concessions to the independence movement and speculate that he has given them amnesty He may end up giving in with a referendum to retain his support.

“It is normal that you are euphoric, it is no wonder. “You have subjected, humiliated and blackmailed an entire president of the Government,” the candidate to repeat as a PP candidate, Alejandro Fernández, who the Genoa leadership is reluctant to confirm, simultaneously snapped on the networks. The expectations of the popular party, which starts from only three seats, are more than good because no survey before the electoral advance gave them less than 10 deputies. His detractors, who are not few within the Catalan PP, praise Fernández’s oratory, but reproach him for having the party turned into foxes.

Puigdemont will try to monopolize the campaign although he will disrupt it less than what would have been expected if he appeared in Catalonia before 12M. Furthermore, and as Sánchez recalled this week to remove the focus from the Junts leader, it is not the first time that the former president heads the list in the regional elections. In the previous two he did not manage to come first since Inés Arrimadas surpassed him in 2017 and in 2021 both the PSC and ERC surpassed him.

The socialists will try to combat Junts’ “victimist” discourse without giving it more prominence than it will already have on its own. ERC aspires to escape the umpteenth appeals to the independence unity that Puigdemont’s party is once again launching, the same one that has made life impossible for Aragonès in the Parliament and with which they have been incapable of governing together (they still blame each other today mutually of the failure of the coalition).

In the PSC they insist that Puigdemont’s reappearance will not change their campaign strategy. If the word ‘seny’ still means something in Catalonia, Illa aspires to keep the patent. Although the PSC candidate’s goal is to value management, for his opponents it is to put Sánchez’s interests before those of the Generalitat or flirt with speeches that are not far from the left, as the Comuns especially displease him.

Illa repeats in each intervention that his objective is to “turn the page” on the process and it is the same thing that he has conveyed to his interlocutors, be they businessmen, unions or representatives of the third sector. This week he sent a letter to more than 200 representatives of civil society to thank them for their contributions in the different meetings that he has held with them in this legislature. The first secretary of the PSC, whom both the right and the independence movement are trying to link to the ‘Koldo case’, avoids announcing his possible allies if he arrives first and can aspire to the investiture. If the independence movement does not add up, it will be much easier for him to choose. ERC does not answer yes or no. Junts assures that they would never make Illa president. But they said the same thing about Sánchez in the general election campaign and if he is in Moncloa it is thanks to them.

The priorities

In the latest survey by the Center d’Estudis d’Opinió (CEO), carried out before the announcement of the electoral advance and published this week, climate change and drought appear as the first problem cited by voters of the PSC, ERC, Junts, commons and the CUP. On the other hand, those from the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox point to ‘Catalonia-Spain relations’ as a priority. Another interesting fact is that, for example, among ERC voters, political conflict appears in fourth position, behind the functioning of the economy and health. And citizen insecurity climbs to third place among socialist voters (something that the PSC has long detected).

So talking about management in Catalonia is debating the drought, education, health, the finances of the Generalitat and migration. In this last area it will be especially interesting to see how Junts positions itself. In their negotiations with the PSOE in Switzerland they have debated this competition. And there is another factor to take into account and that is that if Aliança Catalana, the xenophobic party whose main asset is the mayor of Ripoll, ends up running in the elections, it has options to achieve representation. They are voters who come from the hardline independence movement and in the municipal elections it has already been proven that they are communicating vessels with Junts. “Every time Junts talks about migration in the terms it has done lately, Orriols’ chances in the polls go up,” says a Republican source who examines the polls his party has conducted. Aliança Catalana, without having yet confirmed whether it will present itself, already appears in most surveys.

In the case of the PSC they argue that we should not talk about migration but about rights but also about security. “Security is left-wing,” they emphasize to prevent the discourse of the extreme right from taking hold. For now, its metropolitan mayors have managed to stop Vox in the neighborhoods of the main cities and that is, according to the party leadership, proof that their speech is correct.

In addition to the PSC, the other party more than interested in talking about what they have baptized as “the country model” is the Comuns. Their vote against the budgets of the Generalitat, which ended up leading Sánchez not to present his own for this year either, and their refusal to support Jaume Collboni’s accounts will force them to make an additional educational effort among those left-wing voters who do not They understand your strategy. “We will have to explain ourselves,” they acknowledge.

Jéssica Albiach’s candidacy believes that her commitment to an economy and infrastructure that prioritizes the fight against climate change will end up making its way as May 12 approaches. According to their calculations, they have room to grow in Girona (as already happened in the general elections) and also in the province of Barcelona. Their problem, like that of ERC, is to be blurred if the campaign ends up becoming a confrontation between Illa and Puigdemont. Something that is not certain but nothing can be ruled out.


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