The success of independence in the elections marks the defeat of the strategy of the Popular Party, which is routed.
By convening regional elections to thwart Carles Puigdemont's attempted secession, Mariano Rajoy was hoping "Restore stability" of the region and break the momentum of the separatists. A bet triply lost. The latter come out stronger from the poll on Thursday, December 21 as the Popular Party (PP) of the Spanish Prime Minister collapses in favor of his great rival, Ciudadanos.
With three deputies, eight less than in the last regional elections of 2015 (and 165,000 lost votes), the PP disappears, so to speak, from the Catalan political scene. Not long ago, in the 2012 election, he had the best result in his history, 19 seats. It is a humiliating defeat for the one who remains the first party in Spain.
The Spanish press has not spared the conservative prime minister: it is the "Biggest failure of Mariano Rajoy's political career", a "Fiasco", a "Black day for the PP", a "Disaster" for the party in power, of a "Debacle", have titled several daily newspapers.
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Mariano Rajoy had hoped that the "silent majority" of the "unionist" Catalans would be a decisive blow to the separatist movement. In fact, the Popular Party failed to capitalize on the political dividends of bringing the region under guardianship. It was Ciudadanos, which from the beginning of the crisis had called for the triggering of Article 155 of the Constitution to suspend the autonomy of Catalonia, which managed to present itself as the guarantor of the unity of the Spain.
" These are very bad results, recognized the candidate of the PP in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol. "Not only for us, but also for the constitutionalists who did not know how to present an alternative to independence", he said. Mariano Rajoy was to make an initial assessment of this failure Friday at a meeting of the executive committee of the PP.
Thursday night, the Conservatives did not seem to have really measured the extent of their defeat. "Whatever the government of the Generality [Catalan Executive], the consequences of non-compliance with the law are clear ", limited himself to declaring Madrid one of the spokesmen of the Popular Party, Pablo Casado. "The separatists have lost votes and it is not sure that they can agree among themselves to form a government", provided an official source by analyzing the results.
The PP has considerably hardened its message during the last days of the campaign, to no avail. He boasted of having "Beheaded" the independence movement, in the words of the vice-president of the government, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, who also accused secessionists of "Disloyalty" towards the Catalans themselves. "We are on the right side of history," said Mariano Rajoy, Tuesday, December 19, in Barcelona, came to support the candidate García Albiol.
The PP, which has never had a solid base in Catalonia, is now in last place behind the ultra-secessionist anti-capitalist Popular Unity Candidate (CUP). " The first party in Spain risks becoming an election anecdote in CataloniaIn an interview with Spanish radio Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the Socialist Party (PSOE) said shortly before the election. In these circumstances, how could he solve this crisis ? "
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The defeat of Mr Rajoy is above all the failure of his strategy in Catalonia since he came to power in 2011, that of refusing any concession to the separatists. The dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona has stalled since the last meeting between the Conservative leader and Carles Puigdemont in January.
Ciudadanos wants to dethrone the PP
"The Constitution can be changed, the prime minister told the Madrid Parliament shortly after the "referendum" of 1st Octoberbut only through the rules and procedures provided by it. " He had then offered to talk in Barcelona "On the quantity or quality of public services, on their funding, on how to contribute to social solidarity", but always within the framework of an autonomy.
The defeat of the Popular Party in Catalonia could have other political consequences for the conservatives. "The Catalan crisis is now at the center of Spanish political life," explained recently, in the daily pages El Pais, Lluis Orriols, political scientist at the Carlos III University of Madrid. In this new context, " the rivalry between the PP and Ciudadanos will be played on the ground of national identities ", a debate where the center right party "Could claim its anti-independence background in order to win votes in the rest of Spain Added the analyst.
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Ciudadanos does not hide its ambition to want to dethrone the PP. "Spain must have a future project that will excite all Spaniards", launched his manager, Albert Rivera, next to his Catalan lead, Ines Arrimadas, shortly after the latter's victory.
The training had supported the investiture of Mariano Rajoy in late October 2016, in exchange for anti-corruption measures that remained a dead letter. Since then, relations between the two parties have been rather cold. When the Conservative Prime Minister sought support to trigger the trusteeship of Catalonia, it was to the Secretary General of the Spanish Socialists, Pedro Sanchez, that he first turned, not to his ally of center. Albert Rivera now retains his revenge.
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