Separatists win majority seats in Catalonia elections
Catalonia’s separatist parties are on track to win a majority of seats in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, in Spain, with more than 99 percent of votes counted.
The result is likely to prolong the independence debate going on for years with the rest of Spain, which does not want Catalonia to become independent.
The separatists are expected to claim a combined total of 73 to 80 seats in Barcelona’s regional parliament, where the required absolute majority is 68 seats of a total of 135 seats.
But the socialist PSOE, called the PSC in Catalonia, is the single party projected to receive the most votes with 23 percent and 33 seats, according to numbers from La Vanguardia.
The socialists are against the secession of the region in the north-east of the country. But unlike the former conservative government of the People’s Party, they are open to negotiations.
Their top candidate, former Spanish health minister Salvador Illa, called for reconciliation among Spaniards and Catalans on election night.
“Hope is stronger than fear,” he said, as he signalled his claim to the office of regional government head.
Pere Aragones of the left-wing separatist party, Esquerra Republicana (ERC), claimed the same post on election night.
Since elections in December 2017, the ERC has led a minority government together with the liberal-conservative and separatist Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) and smaller parties.
In Sunday’s election, the ERC is now expected to come second with 21 percent but will claim the same number of seats as the socialists.
In light of the pandemic, voter turnout fell to just over 50 percent – much lower than in the 2017 election.
Catalonia’s status in relation to the rest of Spain is still the dominant political issue in the region. The separatist minority government had called for a new parliamentary election.
Following an illegal independence referendum, Catalonia was placed under emergency measures in autumn 2017 by the then-conservative central government of Mariano Rajoy.
The regional president at the time, Carles Puigdemont, fled to exile in Belgium. Many separatists were sentenced to long prison terms