One Catalan who voted on Sunday told Reuters the election presented the world with a negative image of Spain and Catalonia. Catalan secessionists pushed for years for an independence referendum…
An exit poll predicts that pro-independence parties in Spain’s Catalonia region are likely to win a majority of seats in the regional parliament, but it’s unclear whether they would be able to come together to push through a plan to secede from Spain.
Exit polls show Junts Pel Si will win between 63 and 66 seats, while CUP will take a further dozen.
Catalans are fiercely proud of their own distinct language and culture.
Spain’s financial crisis and resulting harsh austerity measures have generated more support for independence.
Ahead of the vote, opinion polls indicated the main independence group “Junts Pel Si” (Together for Yes) and leftist party CUP were en route to secure a majority. The pro-independence parties got a majority in Parliament with only 48 percent of the vote because of a quirk in Spanish election law that gives extra weight to rural voters.
Regional president Artur Mas’s separatist alliance vowed to declare independence by 2017 if it secured an absolute majority in the parliament. We have a democratic mandate and we know what that means.
“Today is a great win for democracy in Catalonia”, he said. Critics, however, said the result showed secessionist forces failed to gain legitimacy for their effort and demanded Mas’ resignation.
Nationalists portrayed the election as the start of a process aimed at eventually achieving Catalonia’s secession from Spain, a move that the central government, under the PP, considers illegal and contrary to the Spanish Constitution.
Among parties opposed to independence, pro-market Ciudadanos, often cited as a national kingmaker, emerged as the only victor as it jumped to 18 percent of the vote.
The critical vote follows a demonstration on September 11, Catalonia’s National Day, when more than 1.5 million people flooded the streets of Barcelona calling for independence.
The threat of Catalonia breaking away from Spain has dominated the country’s political scene for the past year and has been a constant source of dispute between Mas and the ruling conservative Popular Party of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, which rejects any possibility of Catalan independence as unconstitutional. Final results were expected late Sunday or early Monday.
Catalans from both sides of the independence divide extol their Catalan language, spoken by most of the region’s residents and suppressed during Spain’s 1939-1975 dictatorship under Francisco Franco. I feel part of Spain. Deep down I don’t want independence. The fear campaign carried out by the government, saying we would lose our pensions, that we would be unfeasible, that we would fight each other.
While the pro-independence camp has organized massive rallies of hundreds of thousands in recent years, those in favor of remaining a part of Spain kept a low profile.
“Politicians have to roll up their sleeves now, stop their game of chicken and make concessions”, she said after casting her ballot.