The main parties avoid references to the 'post-trial' phase in the TV3 election debate | Elections in Catalonia 12-M

In the Catalan election campaigns, the TV3 debate has the reputation of being one of the relevant events in the days before the elections. Good staging, rush hour, free propaganda, guaranteed audience, motivated audience, undecided people on the hunt and arguments that have been memorized after a few days of election promotion. A slogan here, a joke at the rival there, raising the intonation if necessary and, once things go well, the opportunity to hunt for a quota of voters. This year the debate began on Catalan public television marked by two major refusals. On the one hand, one of the candidates best positioned for final victory, Carles Puigdemont refused the opportunities offered to him to be able to intervene and confront his rivals. On the other hand, one of the star presenters of the regional channel, Ricard Ustrell, animated the preview of the election program by declaring live that it was not worth watching. He faced public anger from the workers' committee and eventually apologized.

In the 2021 parliamentary elections, the TV3 debate attracted a total audience of almost 1.9 million viewers, according to data from the channel itself. It captured 26% of the screen share and was the most watched program of the day.

This Tuesday, in times of so-called time reconciliation, the televised election dispute began at 10:10 p.m. “This is the decisive debate,” host Ariadna Oltra announced, without reference to at least four others to be held during this campaign. The amnesty has been the issue that has collapsed the political buzz months in Catalonia, but now it seems a distant thing. Archived. The independentistas, both Junts and ERC, avoided presenting the law as an achievement, something Aragonès did with grace. “I'm glad you can be here, Mr. Rull,” the ERC candidate said to his Junts rival, who was jailed and later pardoned. Illa tiptoed around the issue, when the PP and Ciutadans directly accused the Socialists of complicity with the independents. In addition to avoiding the amnesty, the independentists also do not specify what steps they will take from now on in the territorial map.

TV3 put the eight candidates behind a lectern. Six men, two women. The PSC candidate Salvador Illa, dark suit and purple tie, first asked Pere Aragonès, dark suit and tie, about his pactist intentions: “Do you think Junts can provide stability?” Illa asked him. He president, who was supposed to be key in deciding whether to support an Illa or a Puigdemont government, responded evasively, citing financing and the Catalan language, and counter-attacked the Illa waterline. He accused him of “sharing many things with Junts, such as a development model far from the 21st century.” Aragonès continued to harass the Socialists on a very sensitive issue in Catalonia, the commuter network: “What credibility will they have if they manage Rodalies?” he snapped at Illa.

With Puigdemont absent and the ability to intervene via telematics diminishing, Junts prioritized his number 3, Josep Rull, a former councilor with roots in Convergència, ahead of number 2. businesswoman Anna Navarro. “President Puigdemont cannot be here,” Rull said at the start of his speech. And he received the moderator's first reprimand for exceeding the allotted time. The Junts candidate did not wear a tie, just like Alejandro Fernández of the PP. “I wanted to be a politician since I was a teenager,” Fernández said.

The first blow was for the Vox candidate, Ignacio Garriga. “You're a racist,” Rull snapped at the far-right leader. The CUP candidate Laia Estrada, dressed in red shades, took little time to raise the issue that has accelerated everything in Catalonia: The Hard Rock project, from Salou. Disagreements over the macro-recreation center prevented the ERC from approving the 2024 budgets and prompted Aragonès to call early elections. “The largest casino in Europe would use as much water as a city with 30,000 inhabitants,” warned the leader of the commons, Jéssica Albiach, dressed in a pastel jacket. Puigdemont has stated in the campaign that Hard Rock is not a model he supports, but his deputy in the debate defended that Hard Rock would serve to 'deseasonalize tourism in Tarragona'. An argument very similar to the one that Salvador Illa has repeatedly made.

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Now that the debate had already started, the drought that Catalonia is suffering from appeared. No one bears responsibility for the lack of rain, but a dance of guilt ensued to point out who is responsible for the lack of infrastructure predicted for the lack of rain. “The things that aren't done in Catalonia are always someone else's fault. It is the wildcard that always works,” concluded Salvador Illa.

The Catalan's health played a leading role in the fourth block of the debate. The use of the Catalan language among young people has fallen by 19 points since 2007, reaching 25% last year. The Junts' representative, Josep Rull, urged socialist Salvador Illa to reach a grand agreement on the use of Catalan in school. The head of the opposition took up the gauntlet, but also urged the PP to join the same broad agreement, something it had done in the past. The popular Alejandro Fernández and Carlos Carrizosa (Cs) agree that many citizens find Catalan “unfriendly” because of what they consider to be the coercive measures with which they want to guarantee its use in business and the civic services offered by the Generalitat. “The usage data should prompt them to think about whether their promotional measures are correct,” Fernández told them. For his part, Aragonès has emphasized that his government has made major investments to strengthen the audiovisual sector, thus guaranteeing the supply of series and films on platforms. All parties, except Vox, are in favor of working in line with the budget for culture, which amounts to 2% of the total. In the last draft accounts this was 1.7% and the presidential candidate has criticized the rest of the parties for not supporting him. Camilo S. Baquero inquires.

Illa waited almost until midnight to announce that, if he takes over the presidency of the Generalitat, he will appoint Núria Parlon, mayor of Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), as Minister of the Interior and that he will appoint Josep Lluís Trapero, former head from the government will get back. de Mossos, to become director of the Catalan police. It was even later when he announced that he has “a plan” for the return to Catalonia of the companies that left due to the uncertainty of the processes.

It was 12:22 when moderator Ariadna Oltra announced that the program was coming to an end. “It was a lively debate,” he said. The campaign still has its final sprint.

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