28N: Catalan Elections 2010 – Who to vote for?

UPDATED: View the election results here

There’s one week to go until this year’s elections to the Catalan parliament. And that means that the competing parties are ramping up their campaigns, desperate to convince wary voters that they offer Catalonia the best chance of recovery and stability. Fools! Don’t they know that’s my job?!

In case you have the right to vote in these elections (I don’t), and aren’t sure who to vote for, allow me to go over the main candidates.

Artur Mas – CiU (Convergència i Unió)

Mas is a scumbag. He clearly believes that he is entitled to the presidency, dei gratia. His campaign has been heavy on frivolity and light on policy. CiU’s posters include: his face, considerably more jowly than before, a really irritating smiley face, and a slogan and weird little round logo lifted directly from Obama’s ‘change you can believe in’ campaign. It’s like they couldn’t decide which elements to go for, so they just threw everything in. CiU is a shamelessly self-interested political party that seeks to ‘defend’ the bourgeois of Sarriá and Sant Cugat by screwing the rest of us over. It will form a coalition with anyone (not that this is unusual) and I think it’s likely that Mas will pursue a Cameronite campaign of painful, unnecessary cuts to public spending. Civil servants, be afraid. Or just join CiU now and hand them 30% of your salary. Don’t worry: they don’t mind if you pilfer public funds to make up any shortfall. Oh, and Mas says he wants to be president ‘for 12 years’. Catalans, be very afraid.

José Montilla – PSC (Partit Socialista de Catalunya)

If there’s one thing that pisses me off about the Tripartit government we’ve had here for the last 4 years, it’s José Montilla. I don’t doubt that he’s a shrewd back room negotiator (his announcement that he only wants one more term in office confirms this). The thing is that Montilla is a deeply uninspiring, confidence-sapping grey technocrat of a politician. The PSC has run a generally austere campaign, except for this video of a young woman experiencing orgasmic bliss at the moment of democratic involvement – a video which would be rendered much more unsettling if, instead of a cute Catalan chick, it featured the old man from downstairs. This election represents an opportunity for voters to register their displeasure with a Tripartit government that, in one form or another, has run Catalonia for 8 years. And this is the problem: there’s much to dislike about the PSC (they’re fickle, fascist-appeasing, directionless, Madrid-controlled morons, for example), but the Tripartit itself has not actually been as bad as CiU would have you believe. With different people, it could have been a great government. Montilla’s little trick probably won’t get him returned as president, though.

Joan Puigcercós – ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya)

I get the impression that Puigcercós would be happy to remain a party leader rather than a national leader, as long as he remains in work. He’s not as left-wing as he should be, even though like me he studied politics and philosophy, and like me, failed to get a degree. I’m good at computers, he’s good at flags. Actually, Puigcercós strikes me as a fairly honest man, but a bit of a small-time loser. He’d make quite a good school teacher (except for the lack of a degree). ERC’s main policy is Catalan independence. If (and that’s a very big “if”) ERC manages to retain anything like its current position as Catalonia’s third party, Puigcercós would pact with whoever offered him the best deal. A nationalist coalition with CiU would probably be based on some sort of referendum for Catalan independence. Another Tripartit probably wouldn’t.

Alicia Sánchez-Camacho – PPC (Partit Popular de Catalunya)

Known in this house as “that fucking woman”, Sánchez-Camacho has presided over a Catalan PP that has plumbed the depths of right-wing hostility over the last few months. She’s a talentless monster. The PPC has progressed from highly racist electoral material in the mayoral election in Badalona, to producing a computer game where users ‘bombed’ immigrants and Catalan independentists for points. Graeme from South of Watford reckons that the PP are using Catalonia as a testing ground for newer, nastier tactics. He’s probably right. I’d be surprised if they do much better than the 10% they normally get – though low attendance WILL HELP THEM. So go out and vote, otherwise we’ll end up with her in bed with Artur Mas. So to speak.

Joan Herrera – ICV-EUiA (Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds – Esquerra Unida i Alternativa)

Red of cheek and earnest of word, Herrera is one of a handful of Catalan politicians I find it difficult to hate. The eco-socialists of Iniciativa aren’t exactly a powerful force, but they represent a broadly good political perspective: Marxism and environmentalism. In Cerdanyola del Vallès, they formed a town hall coalition with the PP, but they’ve also managed to turn CdV into a really pleasant town. Herrera gained some political capital by arguing that all Catalan MPs should declare their wealth and interests at the beginning and end of each parliament. He then revealed the slightly depressing, though all together pleasing, state of his finances. ERC and, to a degree, Ciutadans, followed suit. The PP, CiU and PSC (fat pigs, the lot of them) all said it was ‘silly’. Now, Montilla has said they’ll back any law that enforces this. I take this as evidence that Iniciativa’s left-wing policies speak to a youth vote that, apart from ‘free orgasms for voes’, the PSC is finding it difficult to engage with. Vote for this party.

Albert Rivera – C’s (Ciutadans – Partit de la Ciutadania)

The thing about Albert Rivera is that he’s obviously a talented chap. I just don’t believe that abandoning the entire system of autonomous communities and withdrawing official support for the Catalan language, while simultaneously indulging a very nebulous neoliberal economic policy is what we need. All too often, C’s supporters are racist scum, too. A low turnout might well favour C’s, the PPC and other fringe groups like the Falange Española de las JONS, España2000 and the Falange Autentica. Those are just examples of other parties. Picked at random.

Other parties and groups

There will be many other parties contesting these elections. They range from the neo-fascist Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC) to the Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP), which stands for independence. You are free to vote for these, but it probably won’t have much effect on the election results.

Best result?

Actually, I think that a left-wing coalition would be the best way forward here. However, I really don’t like Montilla. But I like him more than I like Mas. In fact, four more years of Montilla as president would be a fair price to pay for the pleasure of seeing Artur Mas denied the residency AGAIN. So vote for Inicitativa, and hope for some sort of Tripartit. It wouldn’t be perfect but it would probably be the best we can get from these buffoons.

12 thoughts on “28N: Catalan Elections 2010 – Who to vote for?

  1. Tom

    You have managed to ignore the only two extra-parliamentary parties with a realistic chance of getting representation should they poll above the 3% of votes in any of the four provinces: SCI and Reagrupament, both pro-independence. The pro-independence vote is going to be so thinly spread, the ones that actually can be bothered to vote, that the final result will be smaller parliamentary representation, despite self-determination (or relationship with/within Spain) being the dominant theme of the election. This, also, at a time where support for self-determination has never been higher.

    As far as I know, the CUP (which have many councillors around the country) are not contesting these elections.

    The problem with ICV-EUiA is that they are totally subordinated to the PSC and their record has not been trouble-free: Police, Traffic and Fire Brigades, just to cite three examples.

    The recent controversy about the head-to-head debate is revealing. All other parties opposed it as something counter to the political tradition of Catalonia, a format imported from the two-party politics of the US or France and suited to TV. Politically, a head-to-head TV debate disadvantages all other parties as the debate and its aftermath focuses on the big two.

    Every other party has complained about this except ICV. ICV did not voice any concerns at this sidelining of the other parties, including theirs, by the CiU vs PSC aborted TV debate.

    ICV sees itself as the naughty little brother of the PSC-PSOE, an obedient sidekick, ready to take ministerial posts and ready to head any demonstration against government policy. For the last legislature, ICV has been both in government and in opposition. They should make their minds up and either implement the bits of their manifesto that they can get away with when in government, or join the opposition benches. They are trying to be in two separate places at the same time and politically, whilst it shows good management of the short-term cycle, it’s unsustainable and a barrier to growing representativeness in the medium/long term.

    They key of the election is not how big the PSC-PSOE fall will be, but how cataclysmic the fall by ERC will be. I have forecast 10, which is at the top of my range. Also, if Laporta manages to get elected, despite the vile campaign of criminalisation by El Periodico and La Vanguardia, it would be nothing short of extraordinary.

    Given that ERC could easily half the number of parliamentarians, many bloggers and our esteemed resident journos for the international press, and of course the self-hating dogs of La Vanguardia will attempt to convey the message that Catalans are no longer looking for independence or “nationalist” (that meaningless word) politics and that the crisis has hurt Catalan’s self-confidence, and that support for independence is just a tiny, noisy minority, etc, etc. The usual rubbish. However, all surveys and opinion polls point to the fact that more and more people want a change, either federalism or full independence, and that’s why this issue has been the key theme of the campaign. People are so fed up with establishment politics that they are not even bothering to participate in establishment politics, particularly after SCI and Reagrupament failed to join forces, when their objective is identical.

    Can I suggest a poll with electoral predictions?
    Here’s my bet:

    CiU: 60
    PSC-PSOE: 35
    PP: 15
    ERC 10
    ICV: 9
    Cs: 4
    SCI: 1

    1. Hi Rab, thanks for your comment.

      The truth is that I’m pretty suspicious about both SCI and Reagrupament. Neither seems to me to be much more than a single issue party. The aim in these elections has been to try and prevent a CiU government: I don’t see them as having helped much.

      And this ‘campaign of criminalisation’ against Laporta: obviously it’s true that the two local rags generally opt for the status quo. But Laporta does seem to have some questions to answer. I also wouldn’t vote for him if his were the only name on the ballot.

      Your criticism of Iniciativa is, I think, a little unfair. Herrera has criticised the debate about the face-to-face meeting, correctly pointing out that at least two days of potential debate have been wasted bickering about this.

      El País has made it clear that it wants a face-to-face debate, because that fits with its vision of a lifeless, moribund, grey Spain led by technocrats from two very similar centralist political parties. But the real person to blame for this ‘controversy’ is that idiot, Montilla, who genuinely seemed to be trying to call Artur Mas’s bluff. Mas saw right through it.

      I will try to set up a poll on the elections today.

  2. Sorry, I just re-read that you don’t have the right to vote in Catalan elections?
    How’s that possible? What is the legal reason given?

    Apparently the census for the Scottish elections is the same as for local authority elections, which allows all EU residents to cast a vote at the Holyrood poll.
    This means that I can vote in both Catalan elections and Scottish elections for pesky separatists parties. I shall rot in hell for that.

    1. The legal reason given? NPI. Local (municipal) and EU elections yes, regionals and nationals, no.

      My understanding is that you shouldn’t have the right to vote for the Scottish parliament. But don’t worry: I won’t say anything.

      All this is more evidence that I need to get my act together and organise my application for Spanish citizenship. Then I’ll be able to vote whenever I want!

  3. I don’t understand why you put C’s with the right because it isn’t. Ciutadans is center-left but non-nationalist.

    The centre-right parties are: CIU(catalonian-nationalist) and PP
    The centre-left are: PSC and Ciutadans(non-nationalist)
    The left-wings: ERC and ICV
    The right-wings parties are very small and don’t have more than 100.000 votes in Spain.

    One of the problem in spanish economy is the nationalist or independent parties that want to separate from spain and only want their part of the money for their region and the others region of spain it doesn’t matter. In my opinion they are fascist.

  4. I agree with much you say, Tom. And I just luv your style (e.g. “the old man from downstairs”). What a blast!

    I disagree on the commies. First of all for being such. Second because Herrera as the only campaign theme is totally see-through for me. I think he’s a fraud leading a fake made up of political commissars cum a little arrogant bourgeois green topping, empty shells who themselves claim contain a visible amount of neurons. I do see your point, though. I just don’t share it.

    I agree, again, that you have kept the loonies out. Or at least some of them, those over-valued new two parties that have not managed to become one nor ever will they, or even get more than 10% combined for the next century, and rightly so. Loonies and racists, over the plank. Splash. Gurgle.

    I do not know whether or not to agree with you on Puigcercós. I love the image of him being a school teacher, yet I would certainly send my children to another town. The guy is boring, ideological, nauseating. As is the party, which has given us …persons… like Rahola and Colom, and then has outlived itself with a speedyness I wished other toxic waste would copy. Like plutonium. Like Rahola and Colom. And Carod.

    I agree on Mas, however, and strangely so, my favourite politicians (totally second rank, I admit) were always from CiU.

    Would I vote CiU? Hell, no! I have stopped voting alltogether decades ago. In the special case of Catalonia I’d demand two things: that empty seats be reserved in parliament in proportion to the abstention and/or that this time the vote be a negative one, i.e. for the party you most dislike.

    They deserve nothing else. We deserve better. Damn, or maybe not, actually. The 10-J was certainly a hint.

  5. Classic analysis where you call ’em like you see ’em, very witty too. But somehow I just don’t share your dislike for Artur Mas. Met him the other week and he seemed like a nice chap, very approachable. And he didn’t try to pick my pocket then and there, no doubt he’s waiting for the chance later…

    At least he speaks quite good English and is prepared to pass the time off day with a middle-aged scruffy hippy. Both points in his favour, IMO.

    In my dream scenario, he’s actually the one to lead us to independence, after taking a ride around the block with Rajoy and then falling out with him.

    Yeah, I know. In yer dreams, pal…

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