Politics

Independence movement majority grows in Catalonia as Socialists win at polls

Barcelona, Spain, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- The independence movement increased its majority in the regional elections in Catalonia on Sunday, despite a narrow win by the Socialist Party.

The ultra-right, which had been non-existent in the Catalan parliamentary and political scene, burst into fourth place.

More than 5 million Catalans were called to participate in atypical elections due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which left unprecedented scenarios due to the security measures that had to be adopted, and also had an impact on participation, which at 53.53 percent was the lowest in elections in Catalonia since the recovery of democracy in Spain.

The outcome of the results is not so atypical in a region in which the pro-independence movement has been gaining strength in the last 10 years.

The movement will need the support of several parties to form a government by the end of May, established by 65 deputies of a total of 135.

Two scenarios are possible: A regional executive with a pro-independence gesture or a left-wing coalition. Both options have the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC, 33 deputies) as a common denominator, so it will be the ERC that must choose allies.

The ERC, whose leader Oriol Junqueras is one of the imprisoned politicians serving a sentence for secession and let out for temporary periods during the campaign, could negotiate with JxCat, the party established by the former Catalan president who escaped to Belgium, Carles Puigdemont (32 seats), and the far-left pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) (9).

But despite sharing a goal, the relationships between them are not at their best and it does not appear it would be easy to reach an agreement.

The other option is to open up to dialog with the Socialist Party – led by the former health minister Salvador Illa and backed by Spanish President Pedro Sánchez – which has the same number of seats as the ERC (33), and En Comú Podem (8), the representation in Catalonia of Podemos, a coalition partner with the socialists in the central government.

In this case, it would be a matter of repeating the arrangement that the three parties have at the national level, where ERC supports the coalition government of Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and Podemos in the Spanish parliament.

Seeing the results come in, Illa said that as regional president he would make “change” effective in Catalonia.

He said the high number of votes received shows that there is a significant number of Catalans who want to “write a new page” in the history of Catalonia, based on dialog and “reunion.”

For Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, the victory of his party in the election will make “change and reunion” possible, he wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the conservative Popular Party (PP) saw how in these elections it was greatly advanced by Vox, who has managed to replicate in Catalonia the strong entry it had in the last general election.

With 11 seats, its candidate, Ignacio Garriga, surpassed the Popular Party by eight, and Ciudadanos by five.

Liberals are perhaps the most affected in these elections, as in just four years they have gone from being the most popular to occupying seventh position, with six seats compared to 30 in 2017. EFE-EPA

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