Beyond politics, the image that will remain of this ballot will be that of assessors holding the polling stations, protected by full white overalls, in order to vote voters sick with Covid-19 or in quarantine.
The separatists and their differences
According to partial results covering about 75% of the ballots, the candidate of the Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the former Minister of Health Salvador Illa, led these regional with more than 23% of the votes and 33 seats on the 135 in the Catalan parliament.
But as the separatist parties have pledged in writing not to seal an agreement with him, Mr. Illa has no room for maneuver allowing him to count on the necessary votes in the Catalan parliament to take the presidency of Catalonia.
Determined to break the stranglehold of the separatists, in power since 2015 in Barcelona, Mr. Sanchez appealed to this figure in the fight against the Covid in Spain to lead the battle of the socialists.
The separatist parties, on the other hand, seem able to remain at the head of this rich region of 7.8 million inhabitants. With 33 seats for the Left Republican of Catalonia (ERC), 32 for Ensemble pour la Catalogne (JxC) of the former regional president Carles Puigdemont and 9 for the radicals of the CUP, they have 73 seats against 70 during the legislature which has just ended. However, they will have to overcome the deep differences that have arisen since the failure of the 2017 secession attempt to conclude a government agreement.
The region is currently governed by a coalition between JxC, a formation advocating confrontation with Madrid, and ERC, more moderate.
Very divided since the failure of the 2017 secession attempt, JxC, party of former regional president Carles Puigdemont, and ERC, would therefore seem able to remain at the head of the rich region of 7.8 million. inhabitants. The results were to be known around midnight).
Determined to break the stranglehold of the separatists, in power since 2015 in Barcelona, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called on Mr. Illa, a leading figure in the fight against Covid-19 in Spain, to lead the socialists to battle . While he has personally invested a lot in the campaign, the failure of Mr. Illa to rise to the head of the region would therefore also be his if such a result were confirmed.
If ERC is an ally of the government of Pedro Sanchez in the Spanish parliament, this more moderate formation than JxC, had committed in writing like the other separatist parties not to seal an agreement with Mr. Illa.
Covid patients vote
Masks, gloves, protective visors, distances: the anti-Covid measures marked the ballot, the last hour of which was even reserved for Covid patients and people in quarantine. A very controversial decision in a still very tense health context, even if the situation has improved in recent days.
At 6 p.m., only 45.7% of some 5.5 million voters had voted, a figure down 22 points compared to previous regional ones in 2017.
The regional government had decided to postpone the ballot to the end of May due to the pandemic, but justice intervened to restore the original date.
A sign of unease among voters, around 35,600 people out of the 82,000 drawn to serve as assessors asked to be exempted from this obligation. Although 23,300 requests to this effect were accepted, the ballot was able to proceed normally.
“I was afraid to come but if you don’t come you get a fine. In the end, I had no choice ”, confided one of these assessors, Xavier Navés, an audiovisual technician aged 45.
In order to reduce the risks, polling stations have been installed in open spaces inside the FC Barcelona stadium complex or in an arena in Tarragona.
Puigdemont still in exile
These elections took place a little more than three years after the failure of an attempt at secession marked by the organization, on October 1, 2017, of a self-determination referendum banned by the courts and punctuated by police violence including images had been around the world.
The head of the Catalan government at the time, Carles Puigdemont, is still in exile in Belgium and nine pro-independence leaders were sentenced in 2019 to terms ranging from nine to 13 years in prison.