Pro-Independence Parties Retain Majority In Catalonia

Erika Holt
January 18, 2018

The crisis over Catalan independence deepened on Friday as Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, rebuffed an offer of talks from Carles Puigdemont in the wake of the secessionist victory at the polls. Official results showed Catalonia's separatist parties once again winning a narrow majority in the region's Parliament - as they had before - an outcome that could allow them to revive their independence drive. "For that, he needs to take his seat in parliament, win a vote [in parliament] and be in a position to talk to me".

The Catalan Socialist party took 17 seats, while Catalunya en Comú-Podem - the Catalan version of the anti-austerity Podemos party - took eight.

Mr Rajoy called the Parliamentary election after Mr Puigdemont's Government won a referendum on Catalan independence in October.

Catalonia, a wealthy region in Spain's north-east with a culture and language distinct from the rest of the country, was until recently led by the government of Puigdemont, who initiated a process of secession from Spain after the referendum.

Carles Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia who is now seeking refuge in Brussels hailed the results as a "new political step" that would be 'marked by political solutions, not by repressions'. Other pro-independence leaders now in jail in Spain, such as Oriol Junqueras, campaigned for his ERC party through letters, social media and phone calls from prison.

"This is a result which no-one can dispute", Mr Puigdemont said in a televised speech from Belgium.

"The Republic of Catalonia has beaten the monarchy of 155", Puigdemont continued.

"It's increasingly clear that it will be very hard for President Puigdemont to come back to Catalonia and regain the seat he won [Thursday]", said Antoni Bassas, a political commentator in Barcelona.

Pro-Independence Parties Retain Majority In Catalonia
Pro-Independence Parties Retain Majority In Catalonia

Marta Rovira, number two on the ERC ticket, said: "Now we have to reopen parliament and respect the democratic mandate".

With nearly all votes counted, the unionist Citizens (Cs) party had the biggest share of the vote, according to the BBC. They won 37 seats, up from 25 in 2015.

Xavier Albiol, the leader of the Catalan People's party, congratulated the Citizens party on its results and conceded it had not gone well for his own party.

"Despite the difficulties we have faced, the absolute majority of independence continues".

It will be revoked when the new Catalan government will be formed, said Rajoy, as expected, he added, in the decision voted by the Senate at the end of October.

Mr Rajoy said he expects a "new era based on dialogue" to begin in Catalonia. After the Spanish prime minister dismissed Catalonia's government, Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid facing arrest on charges of rebellion.

The result prompted a unilateral declaration of independence from the northern region of Spain. Any solution to the vexed question of Catalan sovereignty remains as elusive as ever.

Puigdemont is targeted by an arrest warrant for his role in organising an illegal independence referendum on October 1 and leading the secession bid. Over 800 people were wounded in clashes with police on the day of the referendum.

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