Spanish elections must be analyzed primarily through a Spanish lens: their purpose is to determine who will govern Spain. And the public, very reasonably, responds to the question it is asked, and it’s wrong to force an interpretation of what they wanted to say in regards to a question that the independence movement wanted answered. But the uniqueness of the Catalan political situation requires a reading of the results on this second level, mainly because, regardless of whether it is legitimate or not, it will become a part of the influencing narrative here and in Spain. And from this point of view, what can be said without twisting the will of the voter?
Firstly, from the pro-independence perspective, it must be said that nothing beats having low expectations, if you want a defeat not to hurt. For the pro-independence movement, it could have been worse. In fact, many feared worse results. And when adding up the total of representatives and votes, thanks to the progress of ERC and together with Democracy and Freedom –discounting the loss of votes due to not maintaining their alliance–, they saved their bacon in only dropping from 19 to 17 representatives.
Secondly, also from the perspective of the pro-independence process, the relief comes especially from having avoided the feared forecast of a Ciudadanos victory which they themselves had linked to the death of the independence process. The possibility that they might end up in first place, as some polls had suggested, melted away. What’s more, the unionism of 2011 receded with respect to the current bloc against the right to self-determination, going from 25 representatives from the PP and PSOE four years ago to 18 shared today among PP, PSOE and C’s. And the parties in favor of the right to self-determination have won 29 of the 47 seats in Catalonia.
Thirdly, it is still true that Catalonia votes in a radically different way than the rest of Spain. The order of voting results for the statewide parties in Catalonia is almost the reverse of the rest of Spain. It is impossible to deny the impact of Spanish logic in the results. But here the Spanish reality is read back to front.
All in all, it’s clear that the pro-independence movement had become drunk on their rallies and that, mentally, they were already counting their chickens. There will be time to analyze the consequences of the election result more calmly, but while I won’t go so far as to say that it has been a dash of cold water, I will say that it is an unavoidable reality check. And this, for a Catalan, is always a good thing.