They say that Sunday’s vote is a de facto referendum on independence from Spain.
They argue that the Spanish government has consistently refused to allow a legally recognised referendum to take place, ignoring an unofficial vote backing independence in November 2014. An independent Catalonia will have to apply for European Union membership, and Spain has already served notice that it will veto this.
Markets have not perceived the risk of independence as very likely, at least there was no material sign of systemic concern ahead of this weekend elections.
Spanish officials warned in the lead up to Sunday’s vote that Catalans would be stripped of their nationality and could plunge into financial chaos like Greece if they break away.
While Mas claimed a victory for pro-secession forces gave his group “enormous strength to push this project forward”, anti-secession parties played up the fact that the pro-independence parties won just 48 percent of the popular vote.
(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez). In this Monday, September 21, 2015 photo, the leader of Spain’s far left “Podemos” (We Can) Pablo Iglesias, speaks during a political meeting of “Catalunya Sí que es Pot” party in Barcelona, Spain.
The separatists’ only chance is that Prime Minister Rajoy’s centre-right government is defeated in nationwide elections scheduled in December, and that a new Spanish leadership is more amenable to their aspirations.
Catalonia leader Artur Mas claimed victory in a parliamentary election for pro-secession parties pushing for independence from Spain.
Catalonia has 7.5 million people and provides about one-fifth of Spain’s national output (GDP).
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.
With their own distinct history and language, Catalans have often been reluctant citizens of Spain.
By early afternoon, around 35% of those eligible to vote had cast their ballots, more than 5% more than in the previous regional election, the government said. “During three centuries they have robbed us of our culture”.
We will update when vote results are known.
After a celebration rally, the pro-independence camp’s leaders told the BBC that they would now proceed towards the creation of an independent Catalan state.
The Popular Party and the Socialists, who won 16 seats, were overtaken by the anti-independence Citizens party, which won 25 seats, up from nine.
“I can’t believe it, my heart is racing!” said Claudia Cardona after a giant TV screen set up in a central Barcelona square announced the win. “My parents are from Andalucia (in southern Spain)”.
The crowd later went silent as people, a few in tears, began to sing “Els Segadors”, Catalonia’s anthem, as journalists from around the world who flocked to Barcelona to cover the vote watched from a podium.
However, only 40 per cent of the electorate took part, and that ballot was declared illegal by Spain’s highest court.
“I’ve heard complaints about the plurality of the Catalan media”, Jordi Sanchez, head of the ANC, said in an interview.
“I had never voted before because I was disillusioned with politics”.
School teacher Sandra Guerrero, 30, said that these elections motivated her to vote for the first time.