The defeat of the Barcelona establishment in the Chamber of Commerce by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) candidacy, in this Wednesday's election, is one of the most serious slaps in the face seen in Catalan society in recent times. The defeat was so conclusive and of such scale that one of the key Catalan institutions in the web of Catalan economics and politics, one of the jewels in the business crown, has not only changed hands but gone to the other extreme, from the most foul conservatism it's become pro-independence. The decisive result (31 pro-independence members of the 40 elected) prevents, in practice, any move by the other members of the plenary, 60 in total. Nor does it seem likely that the moves by the leaving executive to block the result by any means possible, even through legal challenges, will be successful.
The jet set will need days to recover from the shock over the results which brings an end to the work of a group of opaque managers who had turned the institution into their own estate to the extent of making it immune to the winds of change and incapable of synchronising with the majority of the country. Their defeat was foreseeable, but not its scale: all that was needed was to listen, for example, to the rumblings from businesses when they politely ceded the building for Pedro Sánchez's cabinet meeting or they aligned themselves openly and servilely with the application of article 155 of the Constitution. The continuity candidacy embodied by Carles Tusquets struggled so much to take off than anyone could have beaten it, they were irrefutably not going to win.
The underlying movement has some similarities with that which occurred at Fútbol Club Barcelona in 2003 when Joan Laporta won the presidency ahead of the candidacy of the then-establishment, crushing all his rivals with more than 50% of the vote. The winds of change were unstoppable and all anyone needed to do was take a decided step forwards. In the Chamber, if the ANC hadn't stood (they did so right at the start of the campaign), Enric Crous, who embodied the middle way and enjoyed the respect of very different groups, would have won.
Tusquets' candidacy, however, which was nothing other than the continuation of those who have always been in control, made a beginner's mistake: trying to bust up Crous' list, they accused him of being pro-independence with their unhidden aim of discrediting him. In doing so, they innocently set up a polarised campaign between the pro-union and pro-independence movements. But they did it so clumsily that they paved a road, a multi-lane highway, for those who are unequivocally pro-independence: the ANC. From that moment on, all that was needed was the final checkmate and to pick up the scattered pieces of Tusquet's candidacy.
The independence movement, which until now had only had political power in Catalonia, has achieved its first great victory in the world of Catalan business and can enter in grand style into the offices it was previously blocked from. One final question: why is it that when people vote without restraints and the range of voters who end up deciding matters expands (in this case, by enabling electronic voting), it's always the same sectors that lose from politics, business and the media too who, even with the dirtiest possible campaigns, don't manage to get those they support to win.