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3:04, 22 December 2017

In Blow to Spanish Unity, Catalan Separatists Hold Majority in Regional Vote

In Blow to Spanish Unity, Catalan Separatists Maintain Majority in Regional Vote


BARCELONA, Spain — Spain’s effort to snuff out an independence drive in Catalonia was dealt a important blow on Thursday as secessionists narrowly won an election referred to as by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in hopes of calming the country’s constitutional crisis.

Soon after Catalonia’s separatist lawmakers declared independence in late October, Mr. Rajoy invoked emergency powers for the very first time in Spain’s democratic history. He ousted the Catalan government and imposed direct rule on the formerly autonomous area.

Mr. Rajoy then known as new elections for the regional parliament, hoping to reshuffle the political deck and calculating that Catalan voters would punish the secessionist leaders. A lot of are now getting prosecuted for sedition and rebellion and campaigned from prison or exile.

That gamble did not pay off. Official benefits showed Catalonia’s separatist parties once once more winning a narrow majority in the region’s parliament — as they had just before — an outcome that could let them to revive their independence drive.

Inés Arrimadas, center, a candidate and leader of the Ciudadanos celebration in Catalonia, at a campaign occasion in Barcelona on Tuesday.CreditEmilio Morenatti/Associated Press

After months of feuding, Mr. Rajoy, Catalonia and indeed all of Spain ended up close to exactly where the crisis had started.

The standoff is now specific to enter a new, equally contentious phase. It has already unsettled not only Spain but also its neighbors in the European Union, many of whom are fearful of separatist challenges of their personal at a time of increasing populism and nationalism. Nearly no politician outside of Catalonia has supported the drive for independence.

But this time Mr. Rajoy will be politically weakened, even at a national level, right after having lost his bet that a sufficiently massive majority of Catalans would rally behind his call for Spanish unity to block the secessionist challenge.

“This outcome does nothing to resolve the conflict but instead reinforces the extremists on each sides,” stated Elisenda Malaret Garcia, a professor of administrative law at the University of Barcelona.

A march in Barcelona final week in help of Catalan politicians who have been jailed on charges of rebellion.CreditEmilio Morenatti/Related Press

The election campaign has now helped harden positions on all sides — amongst the central government in Madrid and the separatist leadership, as effectively as between unionists and separatists in Catalonia.

The prosperous northeastern area, which involves Barcelona, the hub of Spain’s thriving tourism sector, has harbored desires for independence based on its distinct language and culture for generations.

But even in Catalonia, the outcomes reflected painful divisions, with the separatist parties squeaking out a majority of seats — narrower even than the fragile one they held ahead of.

The three main separatist parties won 70 of the 135 seats in the Catalan Parliament, official outcomes showed. Over all, the separatists won only about 47 percent of the votes, according to the preliminary outcomes, but they benefited from a voting method that favors their dominance in rural places.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain at a rally in Tarragona final week.CreditEmilio Morenatti/Linked Press

Their victory by no signifies assures good results. The separatists are a fractious group, and they have already struggled in the past to agree on techniques and approach. In current weeks, their disagreements have turn out to be more profound, following their failed independence push in October.

The separatist parties could now uncover themselves facing a hard round of negotiations to determine who ought to lead Catalonia’s government and how to put their secessionist project back on track.

The leaders of the two main separatist parties campaigned from outside Catalonia — a single from prison in Madrid and the other from a self-imposed exile in Belgium — and each face prosecution for rebellion soon after a botched try to flout Spain’s Constitution and declare unilateral independence.

Yet their sense of vindication at the outcome was undisguised.

Speaking from Brussels around midnight, Carles Puigdemont, the former leader of Catalonia who was removed by Mr. Rajoy, said Thursday’s record turnout of about 83 % had developed “an indisputable result” in favor of the separatists.

The ousted Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, campaigning from Brussels.CreditEmilio Morenatti/Associated Press

“The Catalan republic has won,” he mentioned, whilst “Rajoy and his allies have received a slap in the face from Catalans.” Mr. Puigdemont stated Spain’s prime minister “must alter his recipe quickly if he desires us to uncover options.”

Mr. Puigdemont also named on Mr. Rajoy to eliminate his direct manage more than Catalonia “tomorrow” and argued that the jailed Catalan separatist leaders “cannot keep one particular minute longer in prison” after Thursday’s outcome.

He did not say, however, whether or not he would return to Spain quickly to seek to start off a new mandate as leader of Catalonia.

Mr. Puigdemont surfaced practically two months ago in Belgium, and he has refused to return to Spain be prosecuted for rebellion. Oriol Junqueras, the leader of the other primary separatist party, Esquerra Republicana, awaits trial in a prison in Madrid.

Ballot papers at a polling station in Barcelona on Thursday.CreditSanti Palacios/Related Press

Mr. Puigdemont’s celebration won 34 seats in the next regional parliament, two more seats than its rival separatist celebration.

“The Spanish government will no longer be in a position to ignore the reality that a majority of Catalans have rejected Mr. Rajoy’s intervention in Catalonia and want an independence referendum,” stated Carles Campuzano, a lawmaker from Mr. Puigdemont’s celebration.

Mr. Rajoy’s Well-liked Party earned just three seats and ended up final among the principal unionist parties. It was the most significant loser of the evening.

Rather, most unionist votes went to Ciudadanos, a rival celebration on which Mr. Rajoy already depends to keep his minority government alive in Madrid. The advance of Ciudadanos will make it the biggest party in the subsequent Catalan Parliament.

Inés Arrimadas, the leading candidate of Ciudadanos, said her party’s win, coupled with the slight weakening in assistance for the separatist parties, confirmed that the independence movement “doesn’t represent a future for all Catalans.”

“The nationalist parties can never once again speak in the name of all Catalans,” she added.

Analysts saw potential losers and pitfalls all around, however, provided the narrowness of the separatist victory and the political gulf it indicated in both Catalonia and the nation.

The election outcome was “another unwanted outcome of years of inaction” by Mr. Rajoy in Catalonia, stated Jordi Sevilla, a former Socialist minister.

Mr. Sevilla forecast that Catalonia could demand yet another election because of infighting amongst the separatist parties, even though Mr. Rajoy would be forced into an early national election following his failure to resolve the Catalan conflict.


Published at Fri, 22 Dec 2017 01:38:19 +0000

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