The decision by Together for Catalonia (Junts) to explore an alternative pact in the Diputació, or provincial council, of Barcelona with the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the representative of the local group Tot per Terrassa stems from a naivety that makes it very difficult for it to come to fruition. First of all, because the absolute majority is 26 deputies and the numbers of the prospective alliance add up, in the best case, to 24: the 12 from Junts, the 11 from ERC and that of the mayor of Terrassa, Jordi Ballart. On the other side are the 17 provincial deputies of the Catalan Socialists (PSC) and the five of the left-wing En Comú, that is, 22 all up. The matter would not end here if it were not for the remaining four belonging to the People's Party (PP) and after having seen their action in the Barcelona city council, no one with a minimal sense of political realism is going to believe that it will not end up with these three last-mentioned reaching a total of 26, and game over.
Would the Comuns or the PP get nervous about once again finding themselves in a coalition led by the PSC? The arguments they used to block Xavier Trias and Ernest Maragall in the Catalan capital continue to apply! Preventing a pro-independence mayor in the Barcelona city council ten days ago and preventing a president of a pro-independence Barcelona Provincial Council next week. If the game is so clear and so obvious, why does Junts play it and why does ERC join in? Let's start with the second: ERC president Oriol Junqueras has repeated ad infinitum that he will not do a deal with the PSC in the Provincial Council unless he has the presidency. The agreement in the provincial authorities in Lleida and Tarragona starts from this premise, but in Barcelona it is impossible.
In the case of Junts, staying out of the provincial body rather than making a deal with the PSC after what happened at the town hall with Xavier Trias was backed on Tuesday by different leaders of the Carles Puigdemont-founded party in the executive meeting they held. From Jordi Turull to Joan Canadell, and including Josep Rius, Marta Madrenas, Salvador Vergés and several other members. Their nuanced reasoning is based on the fact that the pro-independence electorate would not understand it and would penalize them for the deal in the election of July 23rd, since it would be inconsistent with the current political line taken by Junts, and the humiliation suffered in Barcelona prevents any agreement with the PSC. That is a view with which the 12 Junts provincial deputies for Barcelona and the vast majority of the party's mayors in this provincial constituency disagree to a very large extent. Two of them, Marc Castells and Sergi Vallès, mayors of Igualada and Torrelles de Foix, respectively, and both provincial deputies, have made their discomfort known and are putting pressure on the general secretary, Jordi Turull.
Since 2019, the Diputació de Barcelona has been an obscure object of desire in which Junts and the PSC found themselves joined, at a time when the agreements between both political parties were even more difficult than now. Everyone took for granted the repetition of the agreement until the conflict of interests in the capital's city council, through the last-minute pact that left Xavier Trias without the mayoralty. Now Junts is feeling a nervousness that it hasn't had in the last four years despite the political and media noise that was produced and the multiple analyzes asserting that such an agreement with the Socialists would haunt them at the municipal elections. The truth is that in the Trias campaign, that pact did not even appear and if it was going to have any consequences for the mayors in the smaller municipalities it was advantages, since they would have access to some resources - basically, building works in small or medium-sized municipalities - from the Diputación that would have been difficult if they went to the opposition.
In politics you almost always have to make choices, and not always between the good and the bad but often between the bad and the atrocious. Junts made its commitment to leave the Catalan government, albeit pushed by ERC. There are those who continue to defend that the decision was the best option, but many continue to think otherwise. Now, the same thing is happening with the provincial council. Just as if a debate was opened on whether Trias should have shared the mayoralty with the PSC, dividing it three years and one year. In the end, it's all about choosing. But Junts runs a serious risk of institutional irrelevance. And this, for a party that aspires to occupy a central space in Catalan politics, could be a problem.