Years ago ERC was divided into four factions: two social democrats of a gradualist independence, led one by Josep Lluís Carod-Rovira and another by Joan Puigcercós, and on the other hand the sector that we could call traditionalist, more conservative and essentialist, clinging to the intimate yearning for an autarkic homeland, which was then headed by Joan Carretero and Uriel Bertran. When the Republicans made Pasqual Maragall and then José Montilla president of the Generalitat, the latter began to stir restlessly and Carretero, then a councillor, left the government. Then, within the first faction, personalisms emerged and this ended up like the rosary of the dawn. This preamble serves to frame the difficult decisions that ERC faces and which are crucial for this party, for the Government of Catalonia and for the Spanish legislature.

After the announcements of the withdrawal of Pere Aragonès and Marta Rovira, as well as the tactical move to the side to try to revalidate their leadership by Oriol Junqueras, the first thing that the still leaders of the party decided was to leave it in the hands of the militancy the most controversial decision, that of supporting or not the investiture of Salvador Illa. It was obvious that no one would want to take on the historic decision to appoint a socialist as president of the Generalitat. However, it will be Rovira who will pilot the transition towards the November congress and the process to avoid or not repeat the election. His weight in the party is indisputable, above factions. It was she who in her day most pressured Carles Puigdemont towards the unilateral declaration of independence without Junqueras saying anything or who imposed from Switzerland the limits of the negotiation with the PSOE to make Pedro Sánchez president.

What the ERC militancy will decide is an unknown. The party has entered an interim period of leadership and we will see if someone induces the base to go in a certain direction. Although the risk of sinking further in the event of a repeat election is obvious, the designs of the affiliates are inscrutable, probably because of the distinction that this article opened about the souls of the party.

The 12-M elections have been a turning point that will force independence to tackle a regeneration, in the same way that the PSC once suffered its internal personal and doctrinal rifts during the rise of the process. The Socialists experienced leadership changes, renounced the defense of the right to self-determination and lightened the Catalanist accent. Convergència/ Junts and ERC have governed Catalonia with different formulas for a decade. Its leaders have survived politically despite prison or judicial imputations. Paradoxically, these situations have given them the charisma of heroes of the resistance. But the polls have changed the script.

The problem is that neither Esquerra nor Junts have uncontested seats. The Republicans tried it with Aragonès, but the exercise of the government has burned this generation. In Junts the division is such that they cling to the figure of Puigdemont to avoid the fight. The former president has announced that he will leave Parliament if he is not invested, but he has not clarified his future in the party. After these elections, it is possible that Junqueras and Puigdemont will leave the first political line or, if they remain in charge, they will have to adapt to a new phase in which they will not have the main stronghold, the Generalitat, and in a society with al – three priorities. Junqueras has tried to change the discourse. Puigdemont has even tried it too, although less so.

Pedro Sánchez assures that this 12-M the process has ended thanks to his “de-inflammation” policy, while Alberto Núñez Feijóo insists that he is more alive than ever. The PP confuses the process with independence. One thing is the political movement that attempted secession thanks to decisive social support that has not been revalidated at the polls. And another is independence, which has not disappeared and will not, even if it has now taken a step back for multiple reasons. If the process cannot continue because it does not currently have sufficient social strength, the question is whether the leaders of ERC and Junts who led this stage and have reached this point are the ideal leaders to defend a new strategy and to promote their formations in the new cycle that the Catalans have decreed with their vote.