The poll released this Thursday by the Centre for Opinion Studies (CEO, in its Catalan acronym) leaves several conclusions: the independence movement, as we have known it up till now, might not obtain a parliamentary majority in a Catalan election, and only if all three pro-independence parties —ERC, Junts and CUP— achieve results at the high end of the poll's margin for error would they exceed the electoral totals of February 14th, 2021. Secondly, 81% of those surveyed either agree or agree strongly that Catalans have the right to decide their future. This variable is as constant over time as the refusal of the Spanish government and all political forces to accept this reality. Thirdly, 44% of respondents are in favour of the independence of Catalonia while 48% are against. These percentages are more or less stable since the second half of 2019, when the supporters of independence lost the advantage they had since October 2017.
Fourthly, the Catalan Socialists (PSC) have benefited from their political action as the main opposition party and if in the 2021 elections they already finished as the largest party, the scenario that opens up to them now is much better. You can argue as much as you want about that, but Salvador Illa's moderate position has been rewarded in the CEO poll. Fifthly, the Catalan government as a whole has not been rewarded for its political action, although it is true that the impression with ERC is different to that with Junts: the former gain political muscle —yes, with difficulties in stealing top spot in a hypothetical election from the PSC— and the latter, no doubt the result of its political ups and downs and a major disconnect with the great mass of Catalan voters, lose momentum. The snapshot of the PSC is also repeated in the Catalan government. The party under Oriol Junqueras with Pere Aragonès as its leader in government is getting some payback from its political strategy and policy of moderation. The CEO’s survey is clear about this.
One poll is just a snapshot. A series of polls can turn out to be a much more realistic picture of the country. Can it be concluded here that there is only one way to achieve leadership? Probably not. But failing to note which way the winds are blowing as the Catalan public sway back and forth is to be doomed to failure. It is clear that Illa's opposition is working: he has a finger in every pie without governing, he is essential in most political pacts and is not playing a corrosive role, which was one of the reasons why Ciudadanos fell from heaven to hell in such a short time. His moderate ways please his supporters and disarm his detractors. ERC will not move from its current position, as its recent national conference has ratified. Junqueras's political line is to persist in being the lukewarm party of independentism by talking as little as possible about independence and taking action as a government. He has at least one problem: the Catalan minister of education has gone off-narrative with the blaze he has sparked in education, having turned the whole school community against him.
It is urgent for Junts to put in place a policy that voters understand. With Catalan independence as its only flag, the path the party is beating is more arid than expected. Especially because we must not forget that there has been a pandemic, and now there is an economic crisis whose consequences are not yet fully felt and a war very close that has led to hitherto-unknown inflation and has hit the public's purchasing power very hard. Once again, the party needs proposals that its electorate identifies with as their own and that are seen socially and economically as generators of wealth and prosperity. The future whose outline is emerging in the world, and from which Catalonia cannot be completely detached, is one of electoral contests in which the political projects that are perceived as capable of guaranteeing the best living conditions for Catalans will return with strength.
Of course, there will be proponents and opponents of independence, but there is a need for new vectors in order to be a winning party at the polls, and anyone unable to read that well will not be in the race.