Pro-independence parties wins majority in Catalan elections

With nearly 99% of the votes counted, the three pro-independence parties in Catalonia received an absolute majority in the regional parliament, although the anti-independence party Ciudadanos received most seats. Carles Puigdemont, the deposed president of the Catalan government, celebrated his victory in Brussels. He was speaking at the Square-Brussels Meeting Center, near Grand Place and Central Station, surrounded by four former Catalan government ministers who have also been in Brussels for nearly two months.

“Rajoy lost the elections he was looking for. The fact that the independence camp remains in majority is a blow to him,” Puigdemont said in front of a group of Catalan separatist activists and Flemish nationalist supporters.

He noted that the victory was all the more remarkable considering the “exceptional situation” with arrested candidates in Spain and a government in exile. Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which was used to dismiss the regional government and dissolve the parliament, should be suspended “as early as tomorrow”.

“Madrid cannot continue to look away,” Belgian MP Karl Vanlouwe (N-VA) said Thursday evening. “Europe must now take its responsibilities”. About eight N-VA deputies were present with Puigdemont at Square-Brussels Meeting Center.

Because of the election system, which favors rural areas where the pro-independence parties are well established, they received a majority in the parliament – 70 seats of 135 – although only winning 47.6 % of the votes. This is a score similar to that of 2015.

Overall turnout was historically a record with 82 %, which can be compared to the independence referendum on 1 October when less than 50 % voted, either because they were prevented from voting or because they abstained from voting in protest against the referendum.

Inès Arrimadas, the leader of the anti-independence Ciudadan, said Thursday night that the Catalans who opposed to secession had demonstrated that they were more numerous, ensuring that the separatists “will never again speak on behalf of all Catalonia.”

“The process (independence) does not embody the future for all Catalans and we will continue to fight, even with this unjust electoral law that gives more seats to those with less voice,” warned Inès Arrimadas.

Ciudadanos won most seats in the parliament, with 37 seats against 25 two years earlier, followed by Puidemont’s “Together for Calatonia” with 34 seats and the Republican Left with 32 seats. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party lost 8 seats and finished with 3 seats.

Official election results will be announced on 5 January. Presidents of the parliament and of the region should be elected within 20 respectively 10 days. Until then Catalonia will continued to be governed directly by Madrid.

Despite the victory for the pro-independence parties in yesterday’s elections, they did not solve anything and the political situation in Calatonia seems to have returned to square one. The elections might give Catalonia a second chance to interior reconciliation and dialogue with Madrid, and at least a return to autonomy that the region enjoyed before the referendum.

The Brussels Times

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