Catalan elections: Separatist parties win control of Parliament but fall short of voting majority

Ines Arrimadas' Ciutadans emerged as the largest-single party

Ines Arrimadas addresses supporters after last night's election results

Friday, December 22, 2017

Catalonia's separatist parties retained their overall majority in last night's elections, but the political picture in the troubled region remains as complicated as ever.

The three pro-independence parties - Junts per Catalunya, Esquerra Republicana and La CUP - claimed 70 of the 135 Parliamentary seats between them, after a day which saw record turnout.

However the three parties claimed only 47% of the vote, meaning they would lose a referendum if the result were repeated, and Ciutadans, a centre-right party which firmly opposes independence, emerged as the largest single party with 37 seats.

The result is remarkably similar to the 2015 election, which saw the separatist parties claim 72 seats but fall short of an overall majority of votes. However PP, the party of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, went from 11 to just three seats as Catalans vented their frustration at the beleaguered national leader.

The elections were called as part of a crackdown by the Spanish government, which took control of key Catalan institutions after the region declared independence in late October, following an illegal referendum at the start of the month.

The Spanish government imposed Article 155, a constitutional powers clause, and sent several regional independence leaders to jail.

Carles Puigdemont, the separatist figurehead who has been living in self-imposed exile since declaring independence, addressed a rally of supporters in Brussels last night, congratulating the Catalan people on "a result that no-one can argue with."

"The Republic of Catalonia has beaten the monarchy of 155," Puigdemont continued. "The Spanish state has been defeated."

Puigdemont didn't suggest that he would pursue independence again, but demanded "reparation for the many people injured [in clashes between police and voters] on October 1".

He also demanded that the political prisoners be released, and that Article 155 be lifted.

Ines Arrimadas, the leader of Ciutadans (Ciudadanos in Spanish) addressed her own victory rally after her party claimed 1.1 million votes.

Arrimadas, speaking in Catalan, said "we have won the Catalan Parliamentary elections" as a crowd of supporters chanted "Campeones."

Switching to Spanish, she said, "For the first time in Catalonia a constitutional party has won the elections, and it has been Ciudadanos! For the first time.

"1.1 million Catalans have marked the orange voting slip today. I only want to tell you: 1.1 million thanks."