Independentistas win large majority in Catalan elections

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  By a Newsnet reporter

Pro-independence parties have won a convincing victory in Sunday’s Catalan elections, however it was a disappointing day for the ruling centre-right CiU party of Artur Mas. 

The big victors were the pro-independence leftist party ERC, who saw their representation in the Catalan parliament more than double, making the party the second largest in the new legislature.  Pro-independence parties now occupy 87 seats in the 135 seat parliament, ensuring a comfortable majority for the referendum bill.

The CiU saw its representation drop 12 seats from 62 to 50.  The party had struggled to defend unpopular economic policies, and Sunday’s vote saw the party fall far short of the absolute majority it had hoped for.  Speaking as the results came in, party leader Artur Mas said: “The situation is not easy, but we will go forward.”

Artus Mas said:

“The CiU is obliged to govern.  But it is also certain that we cannot be solely responsible for the government of the country.  A period of general reflection has to open up in Catalan politics.”

He added:

“I make a call to responsibility because the people have spoken.  We assert that we will lead the government, but we need another force or forces in order that they may have responsibility in the government.”

The ERC saw a strong increase in its vote and succeeded in more than doubling its representation in the new parliament.  It is thought that the party will now enter negotiations with the CiU to form a coalition to govern Catalonia, and to push through the independence referendum bill.

Oriol Junqueras, who heads the party, said that he found it “difficult to disguise his happiness” at the result, the best the ERC has ever achieved.  Mr Junqueras added that his party accepted the results with “modesty, responsibility, and ambition”.

The other big losers during the day were the anti-independence centre left PSC party headed by Pere Navarro.  The party lost 8 of its seats and was left with 20, losing its place as the second largest party in the parliament.  It is the worst result in the PSC’s history, a party which previously formed the Catalan government.

The Partido Popular, which heads the national government in Madrid, made modest gains and increased its representation by one seat, and will have 19 deputies in the new parliament.  María Dolores de Cospedal, the general secretary of the PP, said that the Catalan president had made the elections into a lottery on the independence referendum, and claimed that he had been frustrated.

Observers believe that the votes lost by the PSC largely went to the Ciutadans party, which saw its representation increase from 3 seats to 9.  Describing itself as a centre-left party, Ciutadans is strongly opposed to independence and favours reducing the powers of Spain’s autonomous regions.  

However other pro-independence parties also registered increases in their vote share.  The left-green alliance ICV-EUA increased its representation from 10 seats to 13, while the leftist pro-independence group CUP enters parliament for the first time with 3 seats.  As many polls had predicted, the small pro-independence party SI lost its representation, the party had been plagued by internal divisions and did not fight a convincing campaign.  

Negotiations will now begin to form a coalition government in Catalonia.  The leftwing ERC and the centre-right CiU are deeply divided over economic policies and coalition negotiations will be difficult, but the two are likely to attempt to govern jointly in an attempt to ensure that the independence referendum goes ahead.  

Results in full

Party Seats Gains/losses % in 2012 % in 2010
CiU 50 -12 35.5% 38.4%
ERC 21 +11 13.6% 7%
PSC 20 -8 14.4% 18.4%
PP 19 +1 13% 12.4%
ICV-EAU 13 +3 9.9% 7.4%
Ciutadans 9 +6 7.6% 3.4%
CUP 3 +3 3.4%