Sunday

5th Apr 2020

Catalan voters back secession parties in Spain

  • Mas campaign rally with EU and Catalan flags on show (Photo: convergenciaiunio)

Separatist parties were the winners in Sunday's (25 November) regional election in Catalonia, which saw the highest voter turnout ever in Spanish regional elections.

The new parliament still favours a referendum on independence, something Madrid has said it will oppose.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The governing centre-right alliance party Convergència i Unio (CiU) won 50 seats out of 135 in the Catalan parliament, followed by the left-wing separatist party Esquerra Republicana with 21 seats.

In total, the seats in the new parliament that favour the “right to decide” on independence from Spain is nearly two-thirds with 87 while 48 are against – only a slight change from before the election (86 to 49).

Catalan President Artur Mas will continue to lead the northeastern region in Spain, but his victory was a bitter one, as his party lost 12 seats compared to the election in 2010 when CiU came into power. Mas called for snap elections to give legitimacy to his plan for a Catalan referendum on independence from Spain. He had hoped his party would be elected as the clear leader for such a process.

Although parties in favour of the "right to decide" on independence have been legitimised, the governing CiU failed to get the absolute majority (68) they had hoped for.

Instead, Mas has paid for the severe cuts in public spending – especially in health and education – his government has made in the last two years. The party’s recent move to the separatist camp might also have failed to convince voters whether CiU really wants independence or if it is a populist move.

“I intend to carry out this consultation [on independence],” Mas said after the election.

In a warning to the conservative government in Madrid, Mas said: “Those who want to impede that process must keep in mind that … the sum of the political formations that are in favour of the right to decide has the majority in the Parliament by far."

The government in Madrid was quick to comment saying that “Mas’ separatist programme was a failure”.

Meanwhile, Esquerra Republicana, headed by Oriol Junqueras, jumped 11 seats up from being the fifth biggest party to the second biggest party in the Catalan Parliament.

“This election has strengthened the process towards independence for Catalonia,” Jonqueres said on Sunday night.

The Socialist Party, which favours a more federal Spain, came in third with 20 seats (down from 28); Partido Popular, which currently governs in Madrid and which favours a more centralist Spanish state came in fourth gaining one seat.

For its part, the green-left ICV, which favours a referendum but is still undecided on independence, came in fourth with 13 seats. The non-nationalist Ciutadans party, which wants to stay with Spain, got nine seats; and a new extreme left and independentist party CUP won three seats.

Almost 70 percent of Catalans went to the ballot boxes on Sunday – the highest ever in a Spanish regional election.

The potential road to independence is unlikely to be straightforward, however.

Madrid is against a break-up and the Catalans themselves are cautious when it comes to a change in relations with the European Union. If Catalonia were to become independent, it may have to re-apply for EU membership - a long and cumbersome process.

All eyes on Catalan election

Catalans will cast their vote for a new regional assembly on Sunday in an election that could have considerable consequences for Catalonia and the rest of Spain.

Magazine

Catalan separatist looks to crisis with hope

It is often said that on the long and winding road to European union, it takes a crisis to move ahead. Now the same may be true for regional independence. "Independentism has become a cross-cutting movement."

Agenda

EU economic forecasts out next WEEK

The European Commission will next Friday unveil its latest forecast for economic growth and employment in EU countries.

Coronavirus

EU launches €100bn worker support scheme

The EU commission has announced a "new solidarity instrument", mobilising €100bn in support to workers with jobs affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Other funds will be redirected to respond to the negative economic impact.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. EU's 'Irini' Libya mission: Europe's Operation Cassandra
  2. Slovak army deployed to quarantine Roma settlements
  3. Lockdown: EU officials lobbied via WhatsApp and Skype
  4. EU: Athens can handle Covid outbreak at Greek camp
  5. New push to kick Orban's party out of centre-right EPP
  6. EU launches €100bn worker support scheme
  7. Court: Three countries broke EU law on migrant relocation
  8. Journalism hit hard by corona crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us