Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The Miracle of Girona

Since Sunday, Girona is the only province in Spain where PP does not hold any parliament seat. Before the elections, ERC in this province warned that they risked to lose 1 seat to PP, since it was more or less impossible for PSC or CiU to win it. So what we have seen happening must be a small miracle. ERC lost 1 seat, but to PSC, not to PP. In the end, PSC did not need to win as many votes as ERC had calculated, due to the fact that all other parties lost votes. With the results at hand this is obvious, but the complexity of the Spanish election system made it difficult to predict the outcome. To sum up, the 6 Girona seats were allocated as follows; PSC: 3 (+ 1), CiU: 2 and ERC: 1 (-1).

In Lleida, PP was more successful and won over the seat which had been held by ERC. The 4 Lleida seats were allocated as follows; PSC: 2, CiU: 1 and PP: 1 (+1). A detail for CiU to take note of is that although they managed to keep their seat, they lost many of their voters from 2004.

Tarragona used to be considered a stronghold for ERC, so it must have hurt that the party lost the 1 seat which it used to have here. The 6 Tarragona seats were allocated as follows; PSC: 4 (+1), CiU: 1 and PP: 1.

The result in Barcelona offered surprises until the very end of the counting. Throughout the election evening it seemed as if ICV-EUA would be able to keep their 2 seats, but then they lost 1 of them. Late in the night came another change, when 1 seat went from PP to CiU. Thanks to that, CiU has more seats in the new parliament than in the old one. For PP it means that they did not manage to increase their number of seats from this province. The 31 Barcelona seats were allocated as follows; PSC: 16 (+2), CiU: 7 (+1), PP: 5, ERC: 2 (-2) and ICV-EUA: 1 (-1).

For the whole of Catalonia that gives us the following sums: PSC: 25 (+4), CiU: 11 (+1), PP: 7 (+1), ERC: 3 (-5) and ICV-EUA: 1 (-1).

It deserves to be mentioned that the new party Ciutadans/Ciudadanos did not get the 1 seat which they aspired to win in Barcelona, nor did they manage ot win seats outside Catalonia. Personally, I am convinced that this is the beginning of the end for that movement.

Of a greater magnitude are the difficulties the elections have revealed for the left-wing Catalan nationalists, most notably ERC (- 5) but, unfortunately, also for Joan Herrera’s ICV-EUA (- 1). As a consequence, yesterday among the opening items on Spanish and Catalan TV news, we could here that Joan Puigcercós of ERC has resigned from his functions in the parliament of Catalonia, to be able to concentrate on the party’s program for the future.

To blame the ERC's losses on the bi-polarisation of Spanish politics or on the useful vote (el vot útil) for PSC is to take a short cut in the analysis work. Possibly, we saw some abstention among Catalan left-wing nationalists - voter turnout on Sunday was not the high 76,0%, as registered in 2004. However, 71,2% is by no means a low enough share for the elections to be declared illegitimate in Catalonia. Altough some people here do not want to acknowledge the Spanish Parliament, a vast majority does. In a democracy, that is what counts.


Graeme said...

The PP is still hoping to get that Barcelona seat that Convergencia took, apparently there are about 80,000 overseas votes assigned to Barcelona so it could still possibly change hands again.

Erik Wirdheim said...

Thanks Graeme,

I had totally missed that.

So, let's keep our fingers crossed then.