Por Martín González y Eduardo Suárez

After these weeks of political turmoil, Catalans will elect a new Parliament on a regional election on December 21st.

Before the campaign begins, it is important to know where Catalan voters place themselves and where they place every party on two important details: nationalism and ideology. These figures come from a poll published by the Spanish polling institute CIS after the last regional election in September 2015.

Here's where voters place themselves and where they place the parties in a scale measuring Catalan nationalism from 1 to 10.

Perceived Catalan nationalism
Support for Catalan nationalism, parties against secession
Support for Catalan nationalism, left wing parties
Support for Catalan nationalism, parties for independence

The numbers suggest that Catalan voters think most of the parties are much more polarized than them. More than 40% of the population places four parties in the extremes of the spectrum: the secessionist CUP and ERC on one side and the constitutionalist PP and Ciudadanos on the other. PSC, ICV or CDC (now renamed as PDeCat) are perceived as less extreme and more similar to the electorate as a whole.

Asked about their ideology, Catalans paint a different picture. Half of the them place themselves in the center-left and that’s where they place most of the parties: ERC, PSC, ICV and Podem, with CUP and PP still in the opposite extremes of the spectrum.

Perceived ideology
Perceived ideology, parties against secession
Perceived ideology, left wing parties
Perceived ideology, parties for secession

It is too soon to think what could happen after the election. But these figures suggest most of the Catalans are not as polarized as the last days suggest and could be open to some kind of middle ground if offered one.

In the next chart we put together nationalism and ideology and show the point where Catalan voters place every party on both scales. The three parties which support independence are enclosed by the green circle and the ones campaigning against it share the red one.

The campaign will focus strongly on what happened throughout October: the illegal referendum, the police violence, the Parliament declaring independence or the Spanish Government dismissing the Catalan leaders. But the upcoming regional election will shift the conversation away from the brinkmanship and back to the nuances of party politics. Understanding how Catalans perceive those parties is important for anyone who wants to know what can happen next.


Source: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS).