Catalan separatists increase their majority
The Catalan Socialist Party (CSP) got the lion’s share of the vote-winning 33 seats compared to 17 back in 2017. Closely behind was Catalan Republican Left (ERC) who are the main pro-independence group, who also took 33 seats. In third place, was the Together for Catalonia party, the pro-independence center-right party that won 32 seats. The second and third parties clinched 21.3% and 20.3% of the vote cumulatively while the Catalan Socialist party managed 23% of the vote. It is widely expected that Pere Aragonès, will become Catalonia's next leader.
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Vox, the biggest party in the Spanish parliament garnered an extra 11 seats, clinchie seats than its rivals the People’s Party (PP) and the Citizens party. This election indicated a change in fortune for the latter two as the Citizens Party - a previous majority holder in parliament - dropped its 36 majority seats to 6, while the People’s Party dropped from 4 seats to 3.
Now that the election is over, attention has shifted to the establishment of a regional government. Leading figures in the pro-independence parties celebrated the outcome, selling it as a major win for their pro-independence cause. Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, who is also Spain’s socialist leader congratulated his former colleague, Salvador Illa, on the win, saying, “Socialism has won the election.”
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The Sunday election comes three and a half years after the regional government of Carles Puigdemont, the then pro-independence Catalan leader plunged the country into its worst political crisis by planning to stage an illegal unilateral referendum on Catalan’s independence.
For the first time, the separatists have clinched over 50% of the vote. The regional election saw the far-right outperform their conservative rivals to clinch seats in Span’s Northeastern region. In December 2017, the pro-independence factions took 47.5% of the vote - meaning the 51% of the cumulative pro-independence vote is an indication of growing support.
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Sunday’s election was overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the independence debate that has been at the center of Catalan politics for over a decade. Nine Catalan activists and politicians were sentenced to jail terms of between 9 and 13 years for the independence bid.
The socialists are more in favor of negotiations through the framework of the status quo and guided by the constitution. Splits in the factions calling that strongly fought for independence two years ago have slowed down calls for separation. Illa who also seeks to be regional president has vowed to heal divisions and stitch the country back together. On the other side, pro-independence candidates are parties are vowing not to enter into any deal that will make PSC candidate for the next government.
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The turnout of the Catalan election was unusually historically low in terms of turnout due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Catalonia has been hard hit by the pandemic, suffering over 40% of all Covid-19 deaths in Spain. Catalonia is home to the city of Barcelona and lies in the affluent Northeast regions of Spain.
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