Sunday, November 16, 2003

99% of the results are in and there's going to be some fun political wheeling and dealing over the next few weeks. The PSC got 31.2% of the vote and won 42 seats (the PSC scores highly in Barcelona and its metro area). CiU got 30.9% but pulled 46 seats because it scores highly in smaller cities and rural areas, and the system is weighted so those areas are overrepresented and the city and metro areas are underrepresented. ERC got 16.4% of the vote and 23 seats, mostly in the provinces and in Barcelona city. The metro area doesn't vote ERC; they all speak Spanish. They don't vote CiU, either, for that matter. The People's Party got 11.9% of the vote and 15 seats, mostly in Barcelona and the metro area, and the Commie-Greens got 7.3% of the vote, almost all in the metro area and, secondarily, in the city, and 9 seats.

Hoo boy. In the old days CiU used to regularly win an absolute majority in these here regional elections. They were the moderate Catalanist party, more in favor of a great deal of autonomy rather than Catalan independence, and they included conservatives, liberals, and social democrats who all had their Catalanism in common. That coalition--"we're all united because we're Catalanists first and other things second"--is splitting apart. ERC didn't use to get any votes, and what's happened is that the more Catalanist CiU voters have gone over to them. (Example: Pere Esteve.) The more conservative and less Catalanist CiU voters have gone to the PP (Example: Josep Pique). This process was already visible in 1999, in the last regional elections, when CiU lost so many seats they were forced to govern from the minority with the backing of the PP. This did not please many CiU voters at all. As nationalists, they despise the central government in Madrid, and a lot of them did not like the deals CiU made with the PP both after the 1996 general elections and after the 1999 Catalan regionals. They punished CiU.

The Socialists had themselves a good minority coalition going, when they would regularly rack up fifty seats in the Catalan parliament, easy--a strong second, enough to mean what your party says at least has to be taken into account unless it's completely insane--and they pile up mayoralties in Barcelona and the metro area. PSC voters are often idealistic lefties but not usually completely nuts. Some of them are really pretty reasonable. They're like Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean. If those guys are running your country and all you have to worry about is internal affairs, you can get away with doing a Sweden. Things won't be too awful. (But you can't do a Sweden, as Democrat voters in the States seem to think you can, if you're a superpower and international affairs and defense are important issues for you.) What really united PSC voters was their opposition to Convergence and Union. There were some Socialists who were pretty Catalanist (Raimon Obiols) and some Socialists who were pretty leftist (Jordi Sole Tura). Those more Catalanist voters have flaked off to the Republican Left and those who are more leftist have moved on up to the Communists. That's kind of like graduating from marijuana to heroin.

Smart people vote for the PP. That number is increasing slowly but steadily. The Socialists' recent clownish behavior has cost them points, and they've lost a few votes to the PP, as has CiU. Unfortunately, the PP will be shut out of the upcoming coalition negotiations.

Right. Let's do some math. You need 68 seats for a majority in the 135-seat Catalan Parliament. What this means is that a conservative pact, CiU and PP, adds up to 61 seats. No way. A Catalanist pact, CiU and ERC, adds up to 69 seats. That would work. Or a leftist pact, PSC and ERC and ICV, adds up to 74 seats. That works too. So it's all up to ERC. Whichever way they decide to flip will depend on who promises them the most, the PSC + ICV not-very-Catalanist leftists or the CiU Catalanist more or less moderates. The auction has begun. The bidding starts at the conselleria of Economics and that of Public Works...Do I hear Environment?...Come on, you can do better than that...

If ERC went so far as to demand the Prime Ministerial position, I wonder if the Socialists and CiU might make a deal? That's supposed to be unthinkable, but I would prefer either Mas or Maragall to Carod-Rovira as Catalan PM. Those two parties are really not that ideologically different on anything but emotional Catalanism. I wonder if Maragall would prefer Mas to Carod? Or if Mas would prefer Maragall to Carod?

Footnote: Turnout was 63%, up four percent from the last regional elections in 1999.

Footnote Two: Other parties running were the Communist Party of the People of Catalonia, the Humanist Party of Catalonia (the front for the cult), the Internationalist Socialist Workers Party, who must be Trots, Internationalist Struggle, who are probably Trots too, the Platform for Catalonia, the racist / xenophobic Catalanista / Franquista melange, Insubmissive Seats, who are probably the squatters, the Another Democracy Is Possible Coalition, who are the "alterglobalization" hippies, the Republican Social Movement, who just might be far-right, the Spaniards Under Separatism Coalition, who just might be really far-right, and the Calo Nationalist Party, the Gypsies. Except for the Calo Nationalists, who are almost certainly all integrated gypsies and even if they're not deserve a fair hearing in the Parliament, I hope the cops are keeping an eye on all these wackos. The great thing is that each of these parties had its list of 85 candidates, so that's 85 people per wacko political party to keep under surveillance. We should be able to uncover the roots of the conspiracy quite easily.

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