CATALONIA SEPARATISTS INCREASE MAJORITY, TALKS WITH MADRID POSSIBLE
Separatist parties won enough seats on Sunday in Catalonia's regional parliament to strengthen their majority, although a strong showing for the local branch of Spain's ruling Socialists pointed to a dialogue, rather than breakup, with Madrid, CNN reported.
With over 99% of ballots counted, separatists won 50.9% of the vote, surpassing the 50% threshold for the first time. The most likely scenario was for the two main separatist parties to extend their coalition government.
The final outcome is unlikely, however, to lead to any repeat of the chaotic, short-lived declaration of independence from Spain that took place in 2017.
Tensions have ebbed and most voters were more concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic than independence.
Low turnout of 53% amid the pandemic, down from 79% in the previous election in 2017, may have favored separatist parties, whose supporters were more mobilized, Reuters also reported.
However, the single party to have received the most votes is against independence, initial results show. The socialist PSOE, called the PSC in Catalonia, is projected to win almost 24 per cent of the votes and 33 to 34 seats in the regional parliament in Barcelona.
The socialists are against the secession of the region in the north-east of the country. But unlike the former conservative government of the People's Party, they are open to negotiations, Emilio Rappold reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Since elections in December 2017, the left-wing separatist party Esquerra Republicana (ERC) has led a minority government together with the liberal-conservative and separatist Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) and smaller parties.
In Sunday's election, the ERC is now expected to come second with 21 per cent. Third place goes to the separatist JuntsxCat with just over 19 percent and 32 seats. In the separatist camp, there is also the far-left CUP with about 6.5 percent and 9 seats.
The separatists are expected to claim a total of 73 to 80 seats in the regional parliament in Barcelona, where the required absolute majority is 68 seats of a total of 135 seats.