Pro-independence parties win the majority in the early elections defined as plebiscite

Photo: Diari ARA

Catalonia’s pro-independence alliance last night pledged to press ahead with plans to declare unilateral independence from Spain, buoyed by success in a regional election in which they won a clear majority.

With 97 percent of the votes for the regional parliament counted, pro-independence parties took a total of 72 seats – enough for the mandate they say they sought for secession.

To triumphant shouts of “Independence!”, Artur Mas, the Catalan regional president, hailed the win in front of supporters gathered in the Born neighbourhood of Barcelona. « We ask that the whole world recognises the victory of Catalonia and the victory of the Yes! »

Billed by politicians on both sides of the divide as a crucial moment in the future of Catalonia – and with it of Spain and even Europe – the election saw a record-breaking turnout with 76 per cent of Catalonia’s 5.5 million voters going to the polls, more than eight points higher than in the last regional elections in 2012.

Mr Mas defied increasingly trenchant warnings from Madrid to hold this de facto independence vote, which Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, dismissed as unconstitutional.

He insists that the majority for his pro-independence coalition Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) and its allies, the Leftist CUP, will enable him to start an 18-month secession process in which Catalonia will begin setting up state institutions.

Some of Mr Mas’s opponents, however, claimed that the failure of the alliance to gain more than 50 percent of the popular vote – they won 47 per cent – undermined that mandate. Pedro Sanchez, secretary-general of the socialist PSOE, said the results showed « a majority of Catalans do not want independence ».

(Source: The Telegraph)