Pro-independence parties secure absolute majority in Catalan Parliament

Citizens’ Party wins election for first time ever, but unionist bloc fails to win enough seats

Junts x Catalunya candidates celebrate election win by pro-independence parties.
Junts x Catalunya candidates celebrate election win by pro-independence parties. Author: JxCAT
Pro-independence parties won yet another absolute majority in the Catalan Parliament, 70 seats out of 135, with votes to parties supporting the holding of a referendum on independence reaching 55%. The result is a blow for the Spanish government, which had triggered the election —illegally, according to pro-independence parties and associations— after having suspended Catalonia’s devolution following the 27 October Catalan independence declaration. Two main pro-independence parties ERC and Junts per Catalunya (JxCAT) are poised to form a new government.

Right-of-centre Citizens’ Party (Cs) won the most votes overall —the first time ever a pro-union party wins the Catalan election both in votes and seats— with 37 MPs, but the unionist bloc failed to secure a combined majority. With left-of-centre PSC capturing 17 seats and conservative PP sinking to an all-time low 3 seats, they jointly have 57 seats in the Catalan Parliament.

That will not be enough to prevent the formation of another pro-independence government made up of Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s JxCAT (34 seats) and vice president Oriol Junqueras’ ERC (32). Puigdemont is now in exile in Brussels while Junqueras is jailed since 2 November over the independence move. Anti-capitalist, pro-independence CUP will hold a further 4 seats.

Middle-way, left-wing alliance Catalonia in Common (CEC) won 8 seats. The party says Catalonia should become a sovereign republic, but mantaining links under a confederal model with the rest of Spain and rejecting any unilateral way towards independence.

Turnout reached an all-time record 81.9%, up from 74.9% in 2015. Spanish media outlets had predicted that a higher turnout could put an end to the pro-independence dominance, a theory that proved wrong.

Pro-union parties grow since 2015, but not enough

In the 2015 Catalan election, JxCAT and ERC ran together under the Together for Yes (JxS) umbrella, which got 62 seats. CUP won 10, the pro-independence majority thus peaking 72 seats.

The pro-union bloc then won a combined 52 seats (Cs 25, PSC 16 and PP 11).

CSQP —CEC's former name— captured 11 seats.

Independent activists were yesterday highlighting the fact that, against all odds, the overall number of votes of pro-independence parties again grew, from 1.96 million in 2015 to 2.06 million now.

Suspension of autonomy lifted?

Even if the pro-independence parties won the majority, it is still unclear how and when the Spanish government will lift the suspension of Catalan autonomy. Spanish president Mariano Rajoy —whose Popular Party yesterday got its worst result ever in Catalonia— is expected to make an announcement Friday 22, 14:00 CET. It has not been yet disclosed whether he will refer to the lifting of the suspension of devolution.

Catalan president in exile Carles Puigdemont has today proposed a meeting with Rajoy in any EU country excluding Spain. Puigdemont will be arrested and jailed if he returns to Spanish territory.