The Catalan elections, held on February 14, have been a challenge for the editorial staff of EL PAÍS in Catalonia. The very complexity of an informational process like this has been compounded by the pandemic, which has promoted digital channels for communication for all political parties and also for the newspaper itself.
The director of the Catalan edition of EL PAÍS, Miquel Noguer, analyzed these elections last Monday, February 15, together with a group of newspaper subscribers, a meeting integrated into the exclusive activities offered by EL PAÍS + . The journalist regretted that the independence issue centralized the campaign, neglecting a broader program, and reflected on possible political movements to try to form a government.
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The anomaly of these elections , held in the midst of strict sanitary measures, has caused that, “in a joking tone”, the editors of EL PAÍS Cataluña have compared the candidates to Parliament with youtubers. Applicants have had to adapt to online rallies with very few or no in-person listeners.
Beyond that, in terms of content, Noguer considers that the campaign has been “sad” for not having addressed major issues of debate, since the contest has focused on the possibilities of independence for the Autonomous Community.
“It was not encouraged until the last three or four days, when the independence parties -Junts, ERC, the CUP and PDeCAT- sign a piece of paper by surprise in which they say that they will not agree in any way with the PSC “, valued the director.
This fact is conditioning the negotiations, overshadowed by the episodes of violence that Barcelona or Lleida is suffering, among other cities, due to the arrest of Pablo Hásel. Noguer already pointed out in the meeting that what could be expected is that the pro-independence parties try to “extinguish” the idea that the socialist candidate, Salvador Illa, has won the elections, at least in number of votes, taking the initiative at the time to seek a pact and form a Government.
However, the director does not rule out that ERC, tied for 33 seats with the PSC, ends up exhausted by pressure, especially from (Junts), to accept the independence path at any cost. “Esquerra does not want his potential partners to drag him into a legal impasse,” the journalist said.
This could give them legitimacy before their own to look towards the PSC as the only possible partner. “It is a remote possibility, but it is there,” added Noguer.
When Illa joined the campaign, she broke with the existing trend so far. The pro-independence parties stopped fighting among themselves to attack the new rival. Noguer believes that this contributed to the former health minister growing as a “serious aspirant.”
“The push was probably not enough, but you have to take into account where the PSC came from,” he recalled, referring to the 17 seats it won in the 2017 elections. “It was in a crisis of important dimensions,” he said.
Noguer also analyzed the emergence of VOX with 11 seats in Parliament or the fall of Ciudadanos, which has gone from 36 seats to 6. He also answered questions from subscribers, who were interested in the role played by abstention, the scenario This will occur in the event that the Catalan Government is formed with pro-independence parties or on the distribution of votes according to social classes.