The Socialist Party of the president of the government of , seeks to conquer power in in the regional elections on Sunday, May 12, to demonstrate the efficiency of its detente strategy against the independence movement , leader of the failed secession attempt in 2017. Catalonia, which has around eight million inhabitants and significant autonomy, will go to the polls to elect the 135 deputies of its regional parliament. The polls place the socialists led by Salvador Illa in the lead, followed by the formation of Carles Puigdemont, Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), and the other large separatist party, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), of the current regional president, Pere Aragonès.


Take power away from the independentistswho have run the region for almost a decade, would be a great victory for Sanchezwho wants to “turn the page” regarding 2017, when Spain lived one of its worst recent political crises.

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Some convincing results in this key region would allow him to relaunch the new mandate that began in November, complicated by the tough opposition from the right and the opening of a judicial investigation against his wifeafter which Sanchez He even considered resigning two weeks ago.

Pedro Sánchez and the candidate Salvador Illa, greet from the stage during the closing rally of the Catalan Socialist Party.  (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP).

Pedro Sánchez and the candidate Salvador Illa, greet from the stage during the closing rally of the Catalan Socialist Party. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP).


“New stage”

Former Minister of Health during the pandemic, the socialist candidate Salvador Illa claims to want to “open (…) a new stage after ten lost years”. His bet, however, was not enough to govern after the 2021 Catalan elections, in which he came first but far from surpassing the majority that the independence bloc.

Since his arrival at the presidency of the Spanish government in 2018, Sánchez made detente in Catalonia a priority, and approved measures such as pardoning separatist leaders sentenced to prison.

The last one has been to promote a controversy amnesty law for independentists prosecuted for their participation in the secession attemptin exchange for the support of the Catalan parties to obtain his new mandate at the end of last year.

The text, which must be definitively approved in the coming weeks by the Spanish Parliament, will open the door for the return of Puigdemontmore than six years after his departure to avoid Spanish justice.

Carles Puigdemont, Catalan separatist leader and Junts per Catalunya candidate.  (Photo by Josep LAGO/AFP).

Carles Puigdemont, Catalan separatist leader and Junts per Catalunya candidate. (Photo by Josep LAGO/AFP).


The Junts leader, who still has a national arrest warrant, cannot cross the border without risk of being arrestedso he established his campaign center in the south of France, a few kilometers from Spain.

Buses arrive there daily with their followers, hopeful about the rise their party shows in the polls.

“The independence movement is now a bit stagnant (…), but I think that the president’s candidacy [Puigdemont] “This illusion has been recovered a little,” said Arnau Ollé, a 29-year-old computer scientist who was waiting to enter one of his rallies in the French town of Argelès-sur-Mer.

Possible agreements

For Puigdemont to return to the presidency of the region, Junts should first end a separatist bloc which, however, arrives at the elections with deep divisions and its majority in the air.

The independence sum could become even more complicated in the event that the emerging secessionist formation Catalan Alliancefrom the extreme right, obtain representation, as some polls indicate, since the rest of the secessionist parties have stated that they do not want to make an agreement with them.

These elections are crucial for Puigdemontwho assured that he would retire from local politics if he does not manage to return to the presidency of the region, which he himself held during the separatist challenge of 2017.

But the horizon is not clear for the socialists either. With the polls giving them around forty deputies, Illa’s candidacy should also find allies to reach the 68-seat absolute majority.

One of the hypotheses is an agreement with the extreme left and CKDwhich would mean a total break with the decade of separatism dominance.

“Electoral speeches are one thing and the real politics that will come later are another”estimated Ernesto Pascual, professor of Political Sciences at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​who does not see that the results in Catalonia can lead to Together either CKD to make unviable the survival of the central government, whose fragile parliamentary majority depends on its support.

“It would be taking a big risk to force Sánchez to resign and force elections” at the national level, he opined.

Doing so “could change the scenario very quickly,” he added in reference to a possible coming to power in Madrid of the right and the extreme right, frontally opposed, among others, to amnesty for the separatists.