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Despite the socialist triumph in Catalonia, Puigdemont believes in his chances of returning to power

Photo: Matthieu Rondel Agence France-Presse Exiled Catalan separatist leader, Spanish member of the European Parliament and founder of the Junts per Catalunya party, Carles Puigdemont (center), addresses the public as he reacts to the Catalan election results, May 12, 2024.

Rosa Sulleiro – Agence France-Presse in Barcelona

Posted yesterday at 6:39 a.m. Updated yesterday at 5:36 p.m.

  • Europe

Despite the clear defeat of the independence camp during Sunday's elections in Catalonia, separatist leader Carles Puigdemont firmly believes in his chances of returning to power at the head of a minority government in this northeastern province. Spain.

In the aftermath of the worst performance of the Catalan independence movement in 40 years, Mr. Puigdemont, who led the abortive secession attempt of Catalonia in 2017, announced Monday morning that he would run for the presidency of the regional government.

The words of Mr. Puigdemont, who spoke at a press conference in Argelès-sur-Mer , in the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales, in the heart of what he calls “Northern Catalonia”, have confirmed the opening of a period of great instability, which could lead to new elections in this region.

The results of Sunday's vote, largely won by the Catalan branch of the Socialist Party of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, nevertheless constitute a clear disavowal of the independence camp.

“The [socialist] triumph buries the “trial”” (Catalan name of the 2017 independence attempt), was the headline in the Madrid daily El País.

By giving the Socialists some 28% of the vote and 42 seats out of a total of 135, Catalan voters validated Mr. Sánchez's strategy of détente and normalization, which has set the goal, since coming to power in 2018, of closing forever the chapter of the secession attempt.


The leader of the Catalan Socialist Party, Salvador Illa, appeared on Sunday evening as the natural candidate for the presidency of the next Catalan government, but the most difficult thing will be for him to find partners in order to build a majority.

“Illa wins clearly, but must reach an agreement with the separatists,” summarizes the major Barcelona daily La Vanguardia.

For Mr. Illa, the most logical would be a so-called “tripartite” solution, bringing together three left-wing parties: the socialists, Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC, the other major independence party with that of Mr. Puigdemont ), which supports the Sánchez government in Madrid, and Comuns, a small far-left group ideologically close to Sumar, Mr. Sánchez's coalition partner in Madrid.

Between them, these parties would reach the magic number of 68 deputies, i.e. an absolute majority.

But ERC, which was in power in Barcelona, ​​went from 33 to 20 seats on Sunday. A real rout, which led Pere Aragonès, the outgoing president of Catalonia, to announce on Monday both his withdrawal from active politics and the entry of ERC into the opposition.

“We will not be there to facilitate an inauguration of the Socialist Party,” he declared at a press conference.

It is this observation which explains the bet of Mr. Puigdemont, whose center-right formation Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), which defends pure and hardline independence, did well in the elections by winning 35 seats, three more than in the outgoing assembly and above all 15 more than ERC, its great rival, which makes it the indisputable champion of the independence camp.

“Sovereignist” government

“We potentially have more chances […] of being invested in the second round in Parliament,” declared Mr. Puigdemont in Argelès-sur-Mer, in a reference to the fact that a relative majority is sufficient to be invested by the assembly in the second round.

The leader of Junts, who has lived in exile since 2017 to escape legal prosecution and would be arrested if he returned to Spain, estimated that “a government of sovereignist obedience” could gather “between 55 and 59 votes” in the assembly, namely the deputies of Junts and ERC, plus perhaps the 4 of the CUP, a small party of extreme left.

“We can assemble a coherent majority, not absolute, but a coherent majority, larger than the one that the candidate of the socialist party can muster”, a- he said.

He added that Junts had already spoken with ERC.

Mr. Puigdemont accepted last year that the 7 deputies of Junts bring their votes to the reappointment to power of Pedro Sánchez in Madrid, in exchange for an amnesty law for the separatists involved in the events of 2017.

This law, which will allow him to return to Spain, should be adopted in the coming weeks.

He said that the situation in Catalonia would not affect the stability of the Sánchez government “if the Socialist Party respects” the agreements made with Junts.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116