A woman casts her vote for the regional Catalan election at a polling station set up in a market in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. Over five million voters are called to the polls on Sunday in Spain's northeast Catalonia for an election that will measure the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the restive region's secessionist movement. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Separatists grow majority in Catalonia despite Socialist win

BARCELONA, Spain — The pro-union Socialist Party appeared set to claim a narrow win in regional elections in Catalonia late Sunday, but the bloc of parties supporting secession by Spain’s northeastern corner were widening their control of the regional parliament.

With 95 per cent of the votes counted, the three main parties pledging to carve out an independent Catalan state were likely to increase their number of seats in the regional parliament to 74. In 2017, those same parties won 70 seats of the 135-seat chamber, just two above the majority.

The Socialist party led by former health minister Salvador Illa was poised to take 33 seats with over 625,000 votes. The pro-secession Republican Left of Catalonia was also set to claim 33 seats, but with 580,000 votes.

But despite the huge boost in support for the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who has held talks with the separatists in an attempt to ease tensions with the region, Illa would have a difficult time trying to cobbling together support for a government.

The outcome confirms that pro-separatist sentiment has not waned despite the suffering of the COVID-19 pandemic and a frustrated secession bid in October 2017 that left several of its members in prison.

However, it was not clear if the separatist parties would be able to overcome the in-fighting that has plagued their bloc since the dream of an easy breakaway from Spain proved elusive.

The results shifted the power within the pro-secession camp to the leftist Republican Left of Catalonia party, whose 33 seats edged out the centre-right Together for Catalonia, set to win 32 seats.

The Republican Left of Catalonia of jailed leader Oriol Junqueras can now dispute the leadership of the bloc with Together for Catalonia, the party of former Catalan chief Carles Puidemont, who fled to Belgium following the ineffective 2017 breakaway bid.

Together for Catalonia maintains a more radical stance on severing ties from Spain in the short term, while the Republican Left of Catalonia lowered its tone over the past year and set winning an amnesty from central authorities for Junqueras and other jailed leaders as its top priority — for now.

The region’s parliament also was poised to become more fragmented, and more radical.

The far-right Vox party entered the Catalan legislature for the first time with 11 seats, confirming its surge across Spain in recent years. Its success came at the expense of the conservative Popular Party, which was left with three seats after a campaign in which it softened its formerly hard-line stance against Catalan secessionists.

On the other side of the spectrum, the far-left, pro-secession CUP party improved to nine seats from the four it won in 2017. So once again, the pro-secession forces will need the unpredictable CUP to form a majority.

A potential regional government will likely hinge on deal-making between parties that could take days or longer to conclude.

While the Socialists rose at the expense of the liberal Citizens, which plummeted to six seats after winning the December 2017 elections with 36, the Catalan political panorama remained unchanged in the essential question: The Mediterranean region bordering with France is still roughly split between those who support the creation of a Catalan state, and those who are fervently for remaining a part of Spain.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A man working at a polling station in the Barcelona University gestures to people waiting in line to cast their vote for the Catalan regional election in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. Over five million voters are called to the polls on Sunday in Spain's northeast Catalonia for an election that will measure the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the restive region's secessionist movement. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read