Cataluña sends a clear message

Cataluña sends a clear message

SALVADOR ILLA: Catalunña’s presidential candidate campaigning for European elections Photo credit: X-Salvador Illa

Cataluña’s regional elections on May 12 revealed a waning desire for independence amongst the electorate.

The Partido Socialista de Cataluña – part of the PSOE  socialist party since 1978 – headed by Salvador Illa was the most-voted with 42 seats, nine more than in 2021.

Centre-right Partido Popular made a spectacular advance, increasing its seats in the regional parliament from three to 15, while ultra-right Vox retained its 11 seats.  Comuns-Sumar, nationalist but not separatist, won six.

Despite these parties’ differing ideologies, the election results show that more than half of the members of the next regional parliament will represent parties which do not want independence.

Meanwhile Carles Puigdemont, regional president between 2016 and 2017, wants to preside Cataluña once more after his party Junts per Catalunya won 35 seats on May 12. Puigdemont declared a shortlived independent Catalan republic on October 27 before fleeing from Spain, hidden in the boot of a car.

Since then he has lived in Waterloo (Belgium), funded by wealthy Catalan separatists. Thanks to the PSOE government’s amnesty that became law in March 2024, he believes he will be free of prosecution and has every chance of forming a government.

To do this, Puigdemont would have to rely on Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) which, although pro-independence, wants a Constitutionally-agreed deal.  Unfortunately, ERC obtained only 20 seats on May 12 and lost 13 and, with the Junts-ERC coalition spluttering to an end in October 2022, another alliance is unlikely.

Even if it were, separatist and anti-system CUP’s four parliamentary seats plus ultra-right, but pro-independence, Aliança Catalana’s two would fall short of the 68 needed to give Puigdemont the presidency.

“Cataluña has sent a clear message,” Pedro Sanchez said on May 24, insisting that only Salvador Illa was in line to head the next Catalan government.

Illa knows he can count on Comuns-Sumar but must now persuade ERC to back him or at least agree not block an investiture. But one thing is certain: whoever governs Cataluña, it won’t be Carles Puigdemont.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at