Catalan separatists lost their majority as Spain’s Socialists won regional elections

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Catalonia’s separatist parties are at risk of losing power in the northeastern region after the pro-union Socialist Party won a historic result in Sunday’s election, six years after Spain was plunged into its worst political crisis in decades. .

Four pro-independence parties led by the United Party of the former regional president Carles Puigdemont, is set to win a total of 61 seats, according to the almost-completed counting of votes. The 68 seats required for a majority in the House are far short.

Socialists led by former Health Minister No Salvador They tasted their best result in a Catalan election, capturing 42 seats, up from 33 in 2021, when they also didn’t get the most votes but failed to form a government. It was the first time the Socialists had won both votes and seats in a Catalan election.

“Catalonia has decided to open a new era,” Illa told supporters at his party headquarters. “Catalan voters have decided that the Socialist Party will lead this new era, and my aim is to become the next president of Catalonia.”

Illa led Spain’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic before Sánchez sent him back to Barcelona to lead his party. Illa, 58,’s calm tone and focus on social issues have convinced many voters that it is time for a change after years of separatist pressure to sever centuries-old ties with the rest of Spain.

Sanchez congratulated Illa on stage X for a “historic finish”.

Socialists must seek the support of other parties and take responsibility for Illa. A deal in the coming days, perhaps weeks, will be key to forming a government. A hung parliament or fresh elections are out of the question.

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But there is a long way to go to reach the target of 68 seats. The Socialists are already in a coalition government in Madrid with the Sumer party, which has six seats in the Catalan parliament. But the hard part will be attracting a leftist party from the separatist camp.

Regardless of those talks, Illa’s rise could bode well for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the Socialists ahead of next month’s European Parliament elections.

Separatists have held the regional government in Barcelona since 2012 and have won majorities in four consecutive regional elections. But July’s referendum and national election showed that support for secession had shrunk since Puigdemont led an illegitimate – and futile – path. A parting bid 2017 led to hundreds of businesses and Catalonia’s main banks leaving the region.

“The candidacy I led had a good result, and we are the only pro-independence force to increase votes and seats, and we take responsibility for that,” Puigdemont said. “But this is not enough to compensate for the losses of other separatist parties.”

Sánchez’s Socialists have spent a great deal of political capital trying to ease tensions in Catalonia, including granting amnesty to jailed high-profile separatists and pushing for a way out. Amnesty for Puigdemont and hundreds.

Illa said the socialist victory was “made up of many factors that need to be analyzed, but one of those factors is the policies and leadership of the government of Spain and Pedro Sánchez.”

Puigdemont’s Together party regained the leadership of the separatist camp with 35 seats, up from 32 three years ago. He fled Spain after a 2017 secession attempt and ran his campaign from southern France on the promise that he would return home when lawmakers meet to elect a new regional president in the coming weeks.

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Puigdemont’s escape from Spain became legendary among his supporters, and caused great embarrassment to Spanish law enforcement. He recently denied hiding in a car trunk to avoid detection when he crossed the border during a legal crackdown that jailed many of his allies until Sánchez’s government pardoned them.

Now, Puigdemont’s only way to keep the separatists in government depends on the remote possibility of a deal with Sánchez to guarantee separatist support for his national government in Madrid in exchange for no return of support to the separatists in Barcelona.

Pere Aragones, the left-wing regional leader of Catalonia’s Republican Party, fell from 33 seats to 20. Record droughtIt may be key to Illa’s hope, though it would have to break the pro-secession coalition.

The Popular Party, the largest party leading the opposition in Spain’s national parliament, rose from three to 15 seats.

The far-right, Spanish ultra-nationalist party Vox took its 11 seats.

A pro-separatist far-right party called the Catalan Alliance, which fights illegal immigration and the Spanish government, enters the chamber for the first time with two seats.

“We have seen that Catalonia is not immune to the reactionary, far-right wave that is sweeping Europe,” said outgoing regional president Aragonés.

A crippling drought, not independence, is currently Catalans’ leading concern, according to the most recent survey by Catalonia’s Office of Public Opinion.

The polling office said 50% of Catalans are against independence and 42% are against independence, meaning support for it has fallen from 2012 levels. When Puigdemont left in 2017, 49% supported independence and 43% were against.

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More than 3.1 million people voted with 57% participation. Thousands of voters had trouble reaching their polling stations as Catalonia’s commuter rail service had to close several train lines after authorities said copper cables were looted from a rail installation near Barcelona.

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