IT is somewhat ironic that Spain’s former Minister for Health, Salvador Illa, who has been very much at the forefront of guiding the country through the pandemic, has stepped down to stand as the Catalan Socialist Party’s candidate for president. To do so, he will have to get rid of the ruling separatists, but should he manage to pull this off, he will not be in a position to go it alone.
Rather like his boss, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, he will have to form a coalition government and with Sánchez desperately wanting to weaken the ongoing move for an independent Catalonia, who Illa will want as a bed partners will be a tough call.
Illa will need his negotiating skills as no party is expected to win an outright majority of 68 in the 135-seat regional parliament and Catalonia remains deeply divided over the issue of independence.
According to the most recent poll, it is very close to a 50/50 split and Sánchez wants much day light put between those figures.
Illa has been extremely high profile over the past year, initially he was on Spanish TV giving updates about the pandemic every day, so he will be well known, the question remains though, is he well liked? Central government has been criticised in parts of Catalonia for its handling of the pandemic and that could cost Illa votes and keep the move for independence alive.