Appearing at a press conference late last night, Josep Lluis Carod Rovira, the president of the radical left wing Republican ERC party, revealed to journalists the make-up of the new regional government following last Sunday's elections.
Mr Carod Rovira revealed that his party, along with the socialist PSC and ICV-EUiA parties, would form the new government. These three parties together control 70 of the 135 total seats available in the Catalan parliament. A more detailed statement, and a series of photo opportunities with the new leaders is expected to take place later today.
Some observers believe that, with this strategy, Mr Carod Rovira has managed to accomplish two things: to completely cover up the severe losses suffered by the Catalan socialists at the polls on November 1, and secondly, to totally exclude Artur Mas (second photo, right) and the CiU party from any sort of position of power in the new government, when it was the CiU that in fact was the party that won the most seats individually (48).
At the press conference, Mr Rovira said that his party's decision represents "a new opportunity" for the tripartite coalition, that will almost certainly be presided over by PSC president, and former Industry minister, José Montilla, to apply "serene, constructive and stable policies."
Montilla given free hand in post-election negotiations
Friday, November 3, 2006
President Zapatero refused point blank to comment on the socialist defeat in the recent Catalan elections yesterday.
Equally, he refused to take any responsibility for the failure of the campaign of his former Industry minister, Jose Montilla, in the elections, but did call on all parties involved to "have a good look at yourselves" in order "to correct any possible errors."
All he would say was that he would have liked the Catalan socialists to have achieved a better result, and added that he would not interfere in any negotiations as these were the responsibility of Mr Montilla, who has a meeting with CiU leader, Artur Mas, today.
It is being reported that Mr Montilla would like to continue in the tripartite coalition with the ERC and the ICV-EU parties, although Mr Mas is seeking to form a pact with the socialists.
Meanwhile, ERC leader, Josep Lluis Carod Rovira, whose party once again holds the balance of power, is saying that he is not going to rush into an agreement with either side.
While the PP is describing the defeat as the first election defeat for president Zapatero, and predicting similar results not only in the regional elections next May, but also in the 2008 general elections, Mr Zapatero pointed out that the PP also lost voters, and remains only the fourth most influential parliamentary party in the region.
Deadlock following Cataluña election
Thursday, November 2, 2006
The Catalan elections took place yesterday, and as was widely expected the winner was Artur Mas and the Convergencia I Unio party that used to be presided by Jordi Pujol.
Mr Mas and the CiU won 48 seats, whilst the socialists turned out to be the biggest losers with only win 37 seats, a drop of five; the radical ERC party also lost 2 seats to win 21; EU/ICV won three more seats to have a total of twelve and the Ciutatans de Cataluña have three seats for the first time. The Partido Popular lost one seat, and now have 14.
The voter turnout yesterday was only 56,77%, the worst result in recent memory and a drop of six percentage points from the last time elections took place in the autonomy.
These results mean that Mr Mas will now have to undertake some negotiations if he is to be the next regional president. It seems fairly possible that CiU could make an agreement with ERC, which would result in 69 seats (one more than the 68 needed for an absolute majority), but there are apparently internal divisions within that party make this seem somewhat remote.
It also seems probable that the socialist leader, Jose Montilla, would not be content by merely becoming a de facto regional president should that group makes an agreement with Mr Mas, which seems somewhat doubtful.
Whilst the Partido Popular see this as the first major defeat for president Zapatero, almost every political party was highly surprised at the rise of the new Ciutatans party, led by the young Alberto Rivera.
The second photo shows Ciu president, Artur Mas (right), celebrating last night's victory with party secretary, Josep Antón Duran i Lleida.