Some Technicalities in Catalonia (International New York Times)
MADRID — The results of last week’s regional elections in Catalonia aren’t what they seem.
The victory of the region’s conservative president, Artur Mas, was pyrrhic. His party did retain a majority in the Catalan Parliament, but it lost 12 seats in the process, leaving it without the absolute majority Mas envisioned in September when he called for early elections.
Yet if Mas himself got burned, the cause he peddled on the campaign trail surged: the case for Catalonia’s independence was the election’s clear winner. Of the 135 legislators in the Catalan Generalitat, 107 included in their political platforms the “right to decide,” a euphemism for calling a referendum on whether the region should eventually secede from Spain. The nationalist party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, which has doubled its seats in the Parliament, will now lead the opposition, and is likely to find common cause with Mas on the issue.
This outcome ought to make the central government in Madrid adopt a more conciliatory tone on a regional referendum. But independence remains very unlikely, and so the issue is becoming a distraction. Meanwhile, all the deafening headlines about it have drowned out the conversation that politicians should be having about how to make Spain more equitable at the regional level.