The Catalan elections took place at the weekend and it proved to be both a good day for the pro-independence parties as well as the Socialists who are in power in Madrid.
The election was called after the Catalan President Quim Torra was disqualified from holding office after he refused to remove a banner in support of imprisoned and exiled Catalan leaders.
The independence bloc took 51% of the vote (up 3.5% on 2017) and retain the majority of seats (74 out of 135).
Catalan Republican Left (ERC) 33 seats
Socialists (PSC – PSOE) 33 seats
Together for Catalonia (JxCat) 32 seats
Vox 11 seats
Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) 9 seats
En Comu Podem (ECP) 8 seats
Citizens (Ciudadano) 6 seats
People’s Party (PP) 3 seats
The election proved to be a Valentine’s Day massacre for the centre right Citizens’ Party which lost 30 seats to leave them on just 6.
The far-right anti-feminist and Islamophobic party Vox will enter the Catalan Parliament for the first time with 11 seats. It benefitted from being seen as the most anti-separatist party. It now has more seats than right wing competitors Citizens and PP combined.
Overall though the Spanish right in Catalunya has now shrank from 40 to just 20 seats.
The Socialists are now the largest unionist party (at Citizens’ expense) and the joint largest party with the ERC. However government for them will prove allusive. ERC signed a pledge during the election campaign not to work with the PSC and is more likely to form an administration involving JxCat and CUP.
Independence parties point to this week’s result as justification for holding a new referendum but differ on strategy (ERC want to negotiate a poll with Madrid, JxCat wants a unilateral vote).
There have been tensions between the different pro-independence parties that will also need to be ironed out.
A government will likely emerge in the weeks ahead focussed on two things, an independence referendum and an amnesty for Catalan political prisoners and exiles.