A nuanced "democratic mandate for independence"

Pro-independence parties secure absolute majority in seats, plurality of votes · Unionist parties say Catalonia cannot go ahead with secession plans with 47.7% of pro-indy votes · Explicitly unionist parties secure little less than 40% of the votes · Turnout at record high 77.4%

Together for Yes big-tent alliance (JxSí) is today categorical in saying that it yesterday received a "democratic mandate for independence" from Catalan voters. The pro-independence alliance (made up of CDC, ERC amb minor parties plus independents) yesterday won a clear victory in the election to the 135-seat Parliament of Catalonia. JxSí obtained 62 seats and 39.5% of the votes. A smaller pro-independence party (democratic socialist CUP) earned another 8.2% of the votes and 10 MPs. JxSí-CUP's combined results give to the pro-indy camp an absolute majority of seats (72) and a plurality of votes (47.7%).

"The responsibility we have now is to fulfill this democratic mandate," yesterday said JxSí leader Raül Romeva. According to ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, the upcoming Parliament has "more than a sufficient majority" to "go ahead" with independence plans. President of the Catalan government and CDC leader Artur Mas referred too to the "democratic mandate," as he asked unionist parties to "accept the 'yes' victory." Mas highlighted the fact that the turnout (77.4%) was a record high in a Catalan election, which according to the Catalan president vests the vote with increased legitimacy.

But unionist parties were not much inclined to accept that the pro-independence parties had won a clear mandate. All three parties that had explicitly rejected Catalan independence from Spain (PP, PSC and C's) yesterday said JxSí and CUP had lost the de facto plebiscite on independence as both secessionist lists had not reached a combined 50% of the votes. C's leader Inés Arrimadas even asked for Mas's resignation, and called for new elections to be immediately held.

Arrimadas has emerged from this election as the clear leader of the unionist bloc, her party securing 25 seats and 17.9% of the votes, well above PSC (12.3%, 16 seats) and PP, which suffered a historic decline (8.5%, 11 seats). The unionist bloc, therefore, obtained 52 seats and 39.7% of the votes: 20 seats and 8 percentage points less than the pro-independence bloc.

Parties with ambiguous stances prevent clear majorities from being formed

If none of both blocs has achieved the absolute majority in votes, it is because other parties standing for election, and not explicitly being for or against independence, secured more than 11% of the votes. Out of those parties, Catalonia Yes We Can alliance (CSQEP) managed to secure 11 seats and 8.9% of the votes. CSQEP's manifesto advocates a Catalan constituent process and demands a binding referendum on Catalonia's future political status.

Another party with an ambiguous stance on secession was Democratic Union (UDC), which rejected a unilateral declaration of independence, but not independence itself. Union favours an agreement with Spain on the recognition of Catalonia as a nation and a new framework for a confederal-like relation between Catalonia and Spain. The party, led by former Catalan minister Ramon Espadaler, got 2.5% of the votes, not enough to clear the 3% threshold required to be allocated seats.