barcelona - The separatist parties in Catalonia have won a majority in the regional parliamentary elections. After 99.89 percent of the votes were counted, it appeared that the three parties that strive for independence together had 70 seats, a narrow majority in the 135-seat Catalan parliament.
It is true that the Madrid-minded Ciutadans became the largest party with 37 seats, the separatist parties Junts per Catalunya (34), ERC-CatSí (32) and CUP (4) combined seventy seats.
A majority for the parties seeking independence is a blow to the government of the Spanish Conservative Prime Minister Rajoy. He wrote the elections precisely because he expected that the separatists would get the worst of it.
The Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, associated with the Junts per Catalunya, claimed victory for the separatists after the election results. 'The Catalan republic has won', he said in a speech. 'Rajoy and his allies have been defeated by the Catalans,' said Puigdemont from Brussels, where he is still sitting after he fled the country when Madrid intervened and expelled the Catalan government for declaring independence.
Nearly 82 percent of the 5.5 million eligible Catalans went to the polls. Because of the election results, it is unclear which party can now start to form a government as the first. Ciutadans has become the largest party in Catalonia but can not form a workable majority and the party of Puigdemont does.
Yet Inès Arrimadas, the leader of Ciutadans, is fighting. She points out that more Catalans have voted against separatism than for independence. 'It has become even clearer from now on that the majority support a union with Spain and Europe,' says Arrimadas, who, with her party, won many votes from Prime Minister Rajoy's Partido Popular. The PP achieved only three seats.
The non-separatist parties together took 52 percent of the votes. The Catalan electoral law, however, has a weighting system that favors rural areas, where the separatists got a lot of votes. As a result, the three separatist parties came to a majority of seventy seats.