When con artists join forces to pull off a job, the result is a con fusion. After months of tense buildup to what was supposed to be Catalonia’s big step towards independence, the final electoral results have been, in a word, confusing, ambiguous and unexpected. To start, the polls turned out to be completely wrong, giving CIU a majority which it actually lost big time and placing ERC in fourth place when they actually came in second. The now-resigned director of the public polling service said it was because they did the poll right after the September 11th manifestation, more than two full months before the actual elections, an excuse so lame as to warrant further inquiry.
So, what actually happened on the 25th of November, which saw a historic voter turnout of 69,56%? By all accounts, a message was conveyed, one that seems to have taken politicos and voters equally by surprise. This message can be broken down into several talking points:
1. Using the independence issue as a smokescreen to hide austerity measures won’t work. This is proven by the major drop by CIU, who have been in power the past two years applying austerity and suddenly decided to take up the independence issue which had never been on their agenda before. For their efforts, they lost 12 seats in parliament, dropping from a near majority of 62 seats to 50, their worse result in 40 years of democrazy, although they still remain the most voted party.
2. Despite Madrid’s insistence that CIU’s drop is the end of independence story, the results suggest otherwise, with ERC –the bona-fide independence party– more than doubling their seats from 10 to 21 to become the second most voted party in these elections. In fact, it seems CIU’s loss became ERC’s gain almost point for point, which is significant in that it shows that many Catalans want independence but do not trust CIU to stay the course. The total number of seats held by parties supposedly in favor of an independence referendum, CIU, ERC, IC-V and CUP is of almost two-thirds of the Catalan parliament, which means Madrid’s post-election analysis is just wishful thinking and not based on any logical thought process, as usual.
3. Other parties “punished” by voters for their association to austerity measures were the socialists, who tanked in Catalonia like they tanked in the general elections, losing many votes to the newly-created extreme left CUP, who won 3 seats which they promise to use as a “Trojan horse for the people”. To a lesser degree, the PP of the current president Ratjoy got one more seat than they had, which was far from the polarized anti-independence votes they were hoping for. The main reason for this, again, are the anti-austerity votes that went to Cuitadans, a younger and more progressive white brand of the PP that went from 3 seats to 9 with its “let’s all just live together” platform.
The big winner here is ERC, the Catalan crazies they fear most in Madrid, the ones who have always had an independent Catalan republic as their prime objective and thus represent a double threat: separatists and anti-monarchists to boot. With their 21 seats, ERC can guarantee a solid parliamentary majority to CIU without exposing themselves to the austerity wear-off. Indeed, ERC has already politely declined to enter in government coalition with CIU because they know full well what waits ahead and prefer to stay in the opposition. Their hand is simple: as long as CIU stays on course to call a referendum on independence, they can count on ERC’s vote on the vital issues. Should they stray, however, they will be forced into strange alliances with the minority parties and their respective axes to grind, and ERC will hammer them like a flock of woodpeckers on speed.
Thus the ruling parties in Catalonia and Spain reap what they sowed in a campaign of hollow proclamations, allegations, dire warnings and, above all, con fusion. Let’s call it the “confused” vote, which seems to lose its way on election day and end up in hands of “fringe” minority parties, many of which are downright hostile and deep down don’t have the bankster’s best interests at heart. This is cause of great confusion among politicos and pundits, who fail to understand the true import of these results, and to the general voting public, who thought everyone else was going to vote according to the polls. Maybe we DO know what we want; now we just have to figure out how to make it happen.