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Podemos could lose votes to almost every other party in Catalonia

Poll shows supporters turning to other options, partly due to ambiguity over independence bid

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau. Ampliar foto
Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau.

The voter drain affecting Podemos in Catalonia, as reflected by the latest voting intention poll, raises concerns for the anti-austerity party, which could fare worse on December 21 than it did at the last regional elections in September 2015.

The CIS poll shows that more than 40% of people who then voted for Catalunya Si que es pot (CSQP), the predecessor of the current Catalunya en Comú-Podem coalition, are now attracted by other voting choices.

Its problem is that it sits along the border of all fronts, and that’s why it has a hard time retaining its voter base

Berta Barbet, Politikon

The survey is predicting a voter intention rate for the leftist group of 8.6%, three-tenths of a point lower than in 2015, and nine seats instead of 11.

Podemos’s Catalan representatives have been accused of ambiguity with regard to the secessionist push, and regional leaders have clashed with central officials over the issue. Meanwhile, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau’s own contradictory messages regarding her position on independence may be contributing to this voter volatility, as her party is part of the Catalunya en Comú platform that is running in tandem with Podem.

But the group’s top candidate, Xavier Domènech, is portraying the situation as beneficial because they stand to “hold the key” to any government, if the polls are right and there is a technical tie between separatist and unionist parties on December 21. As an added bonus, Domènech gets the second-best rating (4.79) of all party candidates after Oriol Junqueras of ERC (5.12).

Leader Xavier Domènech gets the second-best rating of all party candidates

But analysts say that the coalition’s ambiguity is having negative effects on its election outcomes.

“Catalunya En Comú-Podem has one of the lowest loyalty rates,” explains Pablo Simón, a visiting lecturer at Carlos III University. “Its middle-of-the-spectrum position in a context of polarization is not helping.”

Simón notes that coalition leaders called on people to go vote in the illegal referendum of October 1, but later “disassociated themselves with all that and took up a rhetoric that opposed the unilateral declaration of independence and Article 155.”

“Its problem is that it sits along the border of all fronts, and that’s why it has a hard time retaining its voter base,” adds Berta Barbet, a political scientist and editor at the think tank Politikon.

According to the CIS poll, 15.6% of people who voted for Catalunya Sí que es Pot in 2015 would now vote for a separatist party: 8.6% for the Catalan Republican Left (ERC); 3.7% for Junts per Catalunya and 3.3% for the far-left CUP.

But the largest group, representing 21.5% of former CSQP voters, would now cast their ballots for the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). “This reflects the fact that some of the people who voted for them in 2015 did so more because of their stand on social issues,” says Simón.

A further 7.1% of voters would now opt for the unionist party Ciudadanos. Only the Popular Party (PP) would fail to gain from this voter drain.

English version by Susana Urra.

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