The pro-union Socialist Party declared narrow victory in the regional elections in Catalonia late Sunday, but the coalition of parties supporting secession in the northeastern corner of Spain has expanded their control of the regional parliament.
With 99% of the vote counted, the three main parties pledged to form an independent Catalan state to increase the number of their seats in the regional parliament to 74. In 2017, those same parties won 70 of the 135 seats, that is, only two. Above the majority.
The Socialist Party led by former Minister of Health Salvador Illa It was about to take 33 seats with over 625K votes. The pro-secessionist Republican left for Catalonia was also assigned 33 seats, but with 580,000 votes.
Despite massive support for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party, which has held talks with separatists in an effort to ease tensions with the region, Ella will have a difficult time trying to rally support together for the government. He will need the support of many parties, including some separatists.
“This is a clear victory that has one reading: It is time to turn the page, write a new chapter, connect with each other and progress together,” Alaa said after his victory.
The result confirms that pro-secession sentiment has not diminished despite the collective suffering of the COVID-19 pandemic and the frustrating separation attempt in October 2017 that left many of its members in prison.. Four years later, the wealthy region that speaks its own language alongside Spanish is still divided down by the issue of separation.
However, it was not clear whether the separatist parties would be able to overcome the infighting that plagued their mass since the dream of an easy separation from Spain proved elusive.
The results have transferred power within the pro-secession camp to the left-wing Republican Left Party in Catalonia, which has 33 seats on the center-right combined for Catalonia, which is set to win 32 seats.
The Republican left of Catalonia led by imprisoned leader Auriol Junquires can now contest leadership of the bloc with the party Together for Catalonia, the party of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium after the ineffective 2017 secession attempt.
Together, Catalonia maintains a more radical stance on severing ties with Spain in the short term, while the Republican left of Catalonia has lowered its tone over the past year and placed an amnesty from central authorities on Jonqueras and other imprisoned leaders as a top priority – for now.
“We are ready to build a broad consensus on the basis of the right to national self-determination, amnesty and the establishment of a republic,” Junqueras said at his party headquarters after he and other imprisoned leaders were allowed out of prison to join Hezbollah. Their parties on election night.
Adrià Hoguet, a 29-year-old who works in the banking sector, switched his voice from Together for Catalonia to the Republican left in Catalonia.
“Although it wants Catalonia independence, the party knows that it will not be easy and cannot be achieved by simply moving forward, because we have seen that it will not work,” Huget said after casting his vote in Barcelona.
The region’s parliament was also on the verge of becoming more fractured and radical.
The far-right Vox party entered the Catalan legislature for the first time with 11 seats, confirming its rise across Spain in recent years. His success came at the expense of the conservative People’s Party, which left three seats after a campaign in which it softened its previously hard-line stance against the Catalan separatists.
On the other side of the spectrum, the far-left pro-secession CUP improved to nine of the four it won in 2017. So once again, the pro-secession forces will need the unpredictable CUP to form a majority.
Any potential regional government would likely rely on deals between the parties that could take days or more to conclude.
The use of face masks and hand sanitizer was mandatory at polling stations as Spain battles another spike in infections for a country that has lost more than 64,000 people to COVID-19.
For 29-year-old social worker Andrea Marin, the pandemic heightened her desire for the union to continue.
She said, “I voted for the socialists because I do not want my vote to go to the separatists.” “They are already spending a lot of money promoting the separatist cause when what matters today is the economy and ending the epidemic.”
Fears of viruses, bad weather, and the absence of a concrete proposal by the secessionists to spark a boycott again in the near future seem to have reduced voter participation, which has fallen to 55%, compared to a record turnout of 79% in December 2017. This seemed to favor the pro-secession parties , Which yields better results in rural areas that are overrepresented in the election law.
So while the Socialists rose at the expense of the citizen liberals, which fell to six seats after winning in December 2017. With 36 elections, the Catalan political panorama remained the same in the essential question: the Mediterranean region bordering France is still roughly divided between those who support the creation of a Catalan state, and those who strongly support remaining part of Spain.
Associated Press journalists, Ariitz Parra and Renata Preto contributed to this report.