19 Jun, 2024 @ 08:00
1 min read

Catalunya chaos: Threat of repeat regional elections after presidential candidates fail to gather enough support ahead of first investiture debate

If a president is not chosen by August 25, fresh elections will be called

CATALUNYA could be set for another round of regional elections as both leading candidates for president struggle to gather the support needed to command a majority in the regional chamber, known as the Generalitat.

The first presidential investiture of the new Catalan parliament, scheduled for June 25, will go ahead with no candidates put forward after parliamentary speaker Josep Rull, who spent three years in jail for his involvement in the 2017 illegal independence referendum, deemed that the two leading contenders, Carles Puigdemont and the socialist Salvador Illa, had failed to garner sufficient backing.

The pair are the two candidates of the parties who won the most seats in last month’s vote – Puigdemont’s separatist Junts party won 35 seats, whilst Illa’s PSC socialists won 42 seats.

However, both parties fell well short of the 68 seats required to form a majority in the regional parliament, and have spent the last weeks in intense negotiations with other parties to form a governing coalition.

Illa believes he could become president if Esquerra Republicana (ERC), a left-wing pro-independence party who won 20 votes, decide as kingmaker to lend him their support.

READ MORE: Carles Puigdemont accuses Pedro Sanchez of ‘blackmail’: Spain’s Prime Minister promises Catalunya additional funding if Socialist ally becomes regional president

Pedro Sanchez (right) has been accused of blackmail by Carles Puigdemont as he seeks to confirm Salvador Illa (left) as Catalan president. Credit: Cordon Press

In an attempt to sweeten the deal, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has offered to accept a new financing model for Catalunya if the ERC agree to support Illa’s investiture, a move branded as ‘blackmail’ by Puigdemont.

The president of Junts, Jordi Turull, reiterated Puigdemont’s attack, tweeting: “The negotiation of funding for Catalunya should not be linked to a negotiation about who wants to be president of Catalunya, but about who wants to have general budgets and be president of Spain, among other issues”.

Puigdemont, a former president of Catalunya who has lived in exile since 2017, believes he could return to the role if he garners the support of all the pro-independence parties and forces the abstention of the PSC.

To do this, he may threaten to withdraw his Junts party’s support in the national Congress of Deputies on which Sanchez’s mandate depends.

However, for now, neither candidate has garnered sufficient support, meaning the investiture debate called for June 25 is destined to fail.

This will trigger a two-month countdown – if none of the parties can reach an agreement by August 25, then fresh elections will be called for 54 days later on October 20 in an attempt to break the deadlock. 

Illa remains optimistic of convincing his peers to support his investiture, telling Cadena SER radio that he ‘needs more time to form a progressive majority’. 

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to ben@theolivepress.es

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