Stability in Catalonia at last?

The Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC) has won the regional elections in Catalonia, ending the absolute majority of separatist parties in the region: the previous ruling party ERC has slipped to third place, behind Carles Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya. Commentators look at the reasons and discuss whether PSC leader Salvador Illa - like Pedro Sánchez in Madrid - should cooperate with the separatists to form a government.

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Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Successful appeasement policy

The Tages-Anzeiger gives the Spanish prime minister the credit for the good result:

“Restraint, conciliation, concessions - these are the textbook pillars of appeasement policy. ... Sánchez pardoned imprisoned ringleaders of the illegal secession attempt in 2017. He granted the region billions in tax relief and handed over the regional railway network to the Catalans for self-administration. There is no doubt that other factors have also contributed to the easing of tensions. For example, many moderate Catalan nationalists have realised that being outside the EU would have negative economic consequences. However, the Sánchez government's appeasement policy has been a decisive factor on the road to détente.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

No coalition experiments please!

El Periódico de Catalunya sees a cooperation with the separatists at the best outcome:

“Salvador Illa could reach an agreement with Junts, especially if Carles Puigdemont withdraws, as he announced after his poor result in the election. ... He could also govern with Esquerra Republicana and [the left-wing party] Comuns, but the Republicans need a lot of internal therapy after their collapse. ... After a decade of emotional and institutional rollercoaster rides, Catalonia deserves a certain stability, preferably based on an agreement that includes the independence parties. ... New experiments are not a good idea now. ... It would make no sense to activate a constitutionalist majority with the PP and Vox supporting the PSC.” (ES) /

Separatists still have a few trumps up their sleeve still sees chances for an independence referendum:

“The 'Catalonia problem' has been a central component of Spanish state politics since the start of the 20th century. It has always formed a dividing line. ... True, there is no chance that Spain will begin self-dissolution. ... But if Esquerra Republicana were to reach government agreements with the PSC, it could perhaps put pressure on Pedro Sánchez. ... Although it may sound illusory to think that a Spanish government would agree to a binding independence referendum, Spanish politics has given us enough surprises under Sánchez. ... Systems make tactical moves, if only to ensure their own survival.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

A new spectre already looming

The victory of the Socialist Illa is not enough to ensure the hoped-for stability, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung fears:

“The former president of the government of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont wants to return to his old office, and is digging in his heels. A new spectre is looming in Barcelona: a blockade which could spill over into Madrid, where Sánchez's minority government is dependent on the support of the Catalan separatists. Not only Catalan, but also Spanish politics is hindered by a debilitating problem: the major parties are incapable of forming stable coalitions, and too often allow themselves to depend on extremists.”

El País (ES) /

Wind taken out of the separatists' sails

El País applauds Prime Minister Sánchez:

“The results are an affirmation of the policy of reconciliation and dialogue that Pedro Sánchez initiated in the last legislative period and has continued in this one. Sánchez also won on election night. Illa is the face in Catalonia of a PSOE that has invested enormous political capital in decisions such as the pardons and the amnesty law, which came at a high cost in the rest of Spain. ... The separatists can no longer play the role of victims. The resolution of a very serious political problem for the whole of Spain has begun.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Forge an anti-separatist alliance

El Mundo says that the soclialists, the conservative PP and the far-right Vox should work together to prevent the separatists from participating in government:

“PSC, PP and Vox together have 68 seats. The fact is that, in purely mathematical terms, it would be possible to form a [non-separatist] government that preserves the constitution, but the polarising policies of the Spanish government in Madrid make this option non-viable. An uncertain scenario is emerging, both for Catalonia and for the country as a whole.”