ERC has this evening achieved its best result in the Catalan Parliament since the restoration of democracy with 32 deputies and 21.4% of the vote, but finds itself relegated to third place in the Catalan chamber. Not the scene they were hoping for. Despite the pro-independence parties managing to withstand the impact of a very high turnout and keep their absolute majority in the Parliament, ERC hoped to lead the bloc and, even, win the election if PP's collapse hadn't given so much wind to Inés Arrimadas' Ciutadans.
"Pro-independence parties have again won the election in Catalonia", exclaimed the party's secretary general, Marta Rovira, in her appearance to evaluate the results shortly after 11:30pm at Barcelona's Estació del Nord from where ERC had followed the election results. She didn't hide the fact, however, that her objective had been to win the election.
Congratulations to Cs and JuntsXCat
Rovira, who congratulated Inés Arrimadas's Ciutadans for their victory in seats and president Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya for their first place among the pro-independence parties, emphasised that the "majority of the citizens of Catalonia have voted in favour of the Republic" despite the media, police and legal offensive by the Spanish state and despite the imprisonment and exile of the Catalan government.
ERC's best previous result had come in 2013 with the candidacy led by Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira, who won 23 deputies and 16.4% of the vote. In 2012, the first list led by Oriol Junqueras had totalled 21 seats and 13.7% of the vote.
This evening, ERC hasn't managed to win any of the four constituencies, coming second in all of them. Ciutadans beat them in Barcelona and Tarragona, JuntsXCat in Girona and Lleida. Moreover, the very slim margin of 0.28% of the vote which separates them from Junts per Catalunya nationally translates into a whole 2 seats.
The campaign, with its leader, Oriol Junqueras, in prison, was extremely complicated for the party. Unlike Junts per Catalunya, who could count on Carles Puigdemont by various live or recorded video links for their events, Junqueras' voice was only heard in the last stretch of the race. Even so, he still was punished for his contribution by Estremera prison authorities.
Reopening the Parliament
At her appearance, Rovira highlighted that, with historic turnout, the pro-independence parties have achieved more votes than in 2015 and defeated PP. "Today the republic has beaten [article] 155", she said, before asking prime minister Rajoy whether he would now sit down to negotiate, urging him to revoke article 155 and free the Catalan prisoners.
The ERC leader said their main objectives are now to reopen the Parliament and form a new government as quickly as possible.
She followed the results from from the first floor of Estació del Nord after they started arriving with the close of polls at 8pm. With her were the Parliament's speaker, Carme Forcadell, ministers Raül Romeva and Carles Mundó and most of the party's senior leadership.
Also at the station were 600 journalists from 300 media outlets from around the world. The party's leaders, however, kept their distance until shortly before midnight, with the count approaching 97% completed.
"Long live the Republic and long live Oriol Junqueras. Oriol, we've done it and we'll come to find you very soon", said Rovira at the end of her speech.