The attempts by Ciudadanos (Cs) and the Popular Party (PP) to mount a joint candidature in the Catalan elections on February 14th, and theoretically, aspire to become competitive against the leading electoral blocs, have failed. Cs leader Inés Arrimadas has discarded the device cobbled together for this year's elections in the Basque Country and the two forces of the Spanish right will now seek their fortunes separately, competing with the third player, Vox, which is advancing with a certain impetus. In any case, it is all good news for the Catalan Socialists (PSC), which is left as the receptacle for the useful Spanish nationalist vote, since the situation of the 21st December 2017 elections, when Cs led the vote, will be impossible to repeat: the party appears leaderless in Spain and its two political figureheads, Albert Rivera and Inés Arrimadas, are either busy with other things or don't know where they should be. The former is trying to make the best possible life for himself in a law firm and the latter is attempting to re-float the party in Madrid, one day flirting with Pedro Sánchez and the next trying to appear alongside the PP's Pablo Casado.
The implosion of the right into three parties able to win seats leads one to predict an enormously divided Catalan Parliament as this comes in addition to the fragmentation into several acronyms of what has been called the postconvergent sphere - the Catalan nationalist centre-right - where the competitors include Together for Catalonia (JxCat), the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT), the Catalan Nationalist Party (PNC) and even smaller formations such as Lliures. Also in this political space, although with its own brand, is the Democrates party, a split-off from the extinct Unió group which this weekend has re-elected its leader Antoni Castellà as head of its list. Castellà, a 50-year-old politician with extensive experience, favours an approach centred on a unilateral declaration of independence and he may run alone or in coalition with JxCat or even with ERC, with whom he already ran in 2017.
It is clear that all this hustle and bustle of political parties stealing votes from one another, gives particular help to those whose vote is the most consolidated because they do not have new boundaries or splits that pose added problems. This is the case of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), which has long had a very significant advantage in the polls. It is also the situation for the PSC, which has the most loyal electorate among the Spanish parties, and has now got beyond the bloodletting which the rise of Ciudadanos implied, as well as the blurred role the party played midway between the "light" independence it offered in 2012 and the pragmatic unionism of 2015. Of the former, not even the slightest shadow remains, and the PSC has moved to a position which has little to do with the place where it began in the 1970s.
In short: the discordance in the right may suit the PSC as much as the collapse of the Socialists helped Cs in the 2017 elections. In that vote, Iceta's party was sacrificed for the benefit of Arrimadas, and who knows now if the Cs leader, with very few cards to play, might be willing to undertake political harakiri with an eye to improving the party's position in Spain? Stranger things have happened.