Photo: Xavier García Albiol appearing after the results were announced (Credit: ACN)
By Isaac Meler
December 21st, 2017
The collapse of the Partido Popular was unavoidable. The PP only obtained three seats with little more than 4% of the total vote, the worst result in history, which also leaves the conservative party without a parliamentary group. It’s a shipwreck which has left the Catalan PP leader, Xavier García Albiol, all at sea, while leaving article 155 in doubt, and has left Mariano Rajoy, PP Spain leader and President of the Spanish Government, highly exposed, since he was instrumental in the campaign.
Albiol said it during their campaign: scoring behind the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) would “discredit” the 155 government. This Thursday, that reading proved correct, although Albiol surrounded himself with other candidates “with head held high”. The day after the elections, the PP is evaluating things in Madrid. The party headquarters in Genoa street is hosting a meeting of the executive committee of the party.
For the moment, Albiol has already stated that the results from 21st December will result in “bad news for the future of Catalonia” whilst admitting the defeat of unionism. “We have great concern for the economic and social future of Catalonia with an independence majority in Parliament,” said the head of the PP list.
Albiol didn’t forget to congratulate Ciutadans, who won a victory that will nevertheless mean they remain in opposition. “Those of us who were appealing to constitutionalists were not able to create an alternative majority to independentism,” he said. And, in reference to the candidature led by Inés Arrimadas: “Some will celebrate it for 5 minutes but Catalonia will lose in the long run.”
No seats outside of Barcelona
The monitoring of the vote counting at the Grand Marina hotel in the World Trade Center area of Barcelona, in the port, went by in a tense, but calm way. An aide close to Albiol’s team entered the electoral headquarters of the PP looking very down once the count started to show the enormous decline in PP support which had been predicted, coming true. Shrugging his shoulders, he commented with a tiny trace of hope: “Well, there is still the vote of big cities, right?”
Photo: PP party members watching the vote count of December 21st
The reality is that the big cities didn’t save the PP either. Even in Badalona, the former stronghold of Albiol, the collapse was spectacular: from 22% supporting the PP previously, down to merely 8%. The PP now have no seats in the city regions of Girona, Lleida and Tarragona, where they lost half of their previous votes. The PP had feared this would happen. And the loss of the fourth seat, at almost the last minute, was the final straw.
Only a score of supporters followed the election night at one of the hotel’s large lounges. Few of them were speaking. The silence was broken only by the television, and the sound of a piano. From an elevator, a women could just be heard crying.
— Isaac Meler (@isaacmeler) 21 December 2017
The observing of the election in the electoral headquarters of the PP didn’t start off with good omens. The head of the PP campaign in Catalonia, Santi Rodríguez, limited his assessment to being “positive” about the high turnout registered by 6pm. Rodriguez, who also holds the position of general secretary of the PP Catalonia, celebrated the “involvement” of citizens in political life but avoided discussing any of the exit polls that had already put the PP in last place.
The party candidate, Xavier García Albiol, arrived at the World Trade Center in Barcelona, where the PP followed the count, after seven o’clock in the evening. He seerted that high turnout would involve a “long count where everything can happen.” For him, the best result would be “a change in Catalonia”. But in the end, the balance of power hasn’t changed.