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Catalan pro-independence parties win narrow majority

With over 99 pct of Catalan vote counted, pro-independence parties have declared victory after winning an absolute majority of 70 seats in the 135-seat parliament. The unionist ‘Citizens’ party will finish as the largest party, however, the three pro-independence parties JuntsxCat, ERC and CUP have claimed a narrow majority under the MMP system.

Pro-independence party JuntsxCat, finished as the Catalan parliament’s second largest party on 34 seats and is now in a position to try to lead a governing coalition.

The pro-independence parties bloc have a narrow majority with or without the support of the local version of the anti-austerity Podemos party, Comú-Podem (at around 8%). Podem En Comú is not strictly a separatist party, but would be willing to work with the left-wing pro-independence bloc, under certain conditions. This coalition of small leftist parties defend Catalonia’s right to decide its relationship with Spain in a legal and binding referendum. It is associated at the State level with Podemos, a political party born out of the social movements (15M) that protested against political corruption and the Spanish economic crisis in 2011.

Despite the Citizens party leading the votes in terms of seats and vote share, unionist forces managed a total of just 57 seats in the Catalan parliament, compared to 70 for the combined pro-independence parties.

This is a major setback to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, especially considering the poor performance of his centre-right People’s party, which collapsed from 11 seats in 2015 to just four. The Pro-Unionist socialist PSC party was more successful, gaining one seat and ending on 16.

However, this does not appear to be the result Spain wanted to see from these elections. On the whole it appears to be a swing towards a more left oriented Catalan Government which will be less likely to tolerate interference in local laws by Madrid. Even the leading pro-independence party 'citizens Party' is a centre-right party which will be much more favourable to the more social oriented policies likely to be called for by the new Government.

Guardian writer Stephen Burgen has stated:

“This is looking like a catastrophe for Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy. As things stand, a secessionist coalition will have an absolute majority, his centre-right rival Ciutadans will have won the most seats and his own Popular party will have its worst ever result in Catalonia.

However, we have had few results from Barcelona and other urban areas. That could change the picture radically – but not in Rajoy’s favour. This is not what Rajoy had in mind when he called these elections.”

The turnout was a record high for the regional election with over 83 per cent of eligible Catalans turning out to have their say at the ballot box.

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