BARCELONA – The nationalist Junts pel Si coalition, which supports a process for gaining independence from Spain, won the elections on Sunday in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, ending up with 62 seats in the legislature, six short of an absolute majority.
With 97.14 percent of the vote counted, Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) achieved a victory that is insufficient to form a government on its own.
As a result, to have an absolute majority in the regional legislature, it will have to gain the support of the other pro-independence party in the election, the radical left CUP, which won 10 seats.
The two parties will have 72 seats and garnered slightly more than 47 percent of the vote, or the support of less than half of the voters who turned out in huge numbers for the election, which boasted a turnout of 77 percent.
Junts pel Si and the CUP support Catalan independence, which the national government under the center-right Popular Party, or PP, considers unconstitutional, a position shared by Spain’s main opposition party, the socialist PSOE.
The anti-independence parties split the rest of the seats among themselves, with the centrist Ciudadanos party winning 25 seats; the Socialist Party of Catalonia, or PSC, getting 16 seats; the PP winning 11 seats; and the leftist Catalunya Si que es Pot (Yes, Catalonia Can) party getting 11 seats in the regional legislature.
Junts pel Si is a coalition that includes politicians with different ideologies, both leftist republican and center-right, such as the regional government president, Artur Mas, who is seeking re-election and has described himself in the past as a moderate nationalist.
Mas, whose vote total has been trending lower in various elections in recent years, promoted his new candidacy after long negotiations with other political groups and in an effort to craft a ticket that would start the process of Catalan secession from Spain.
Some 5.5 million voters in the wealthy northeastern region were eligible to cast ballots for the members of the next regional legislature and government, but nationalists tried to portray the election as a referendum on their plan for achieving Catalonia’s secession from Spain
Mas and his allies appeared before their supporters in Barcelona and tried to give the results a positive spin, saying that their “(proposal) has won” in the election and given “great legitimacy” to the coalition for pursuing its pro-independence plan.
National government officials, for their part, told EFE that the government viewed the Catalan election results as evidence that Mas’s pro-independence strategy had failed because he came up short in gaining Catalan society’s support for his plan in terms of both total number of votes and seats.
Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said, meanwhile, that supporters of Catalan independence “have lost the plebiscite. There is a majority of Catalans who do not want independence, but that do want to have a time of coexistence, dialogue and reform in all of” Spain.
The regional legislature and the new government will take shape in the next few weeks, all while Spain prepares for the legislative elections expected in December and in which the Catalan issue will likely continue to have a presence.
Mas is not guaranteed re-election as regional president since the CUP is in a position to back Junts pel Si, but not the politician himself as president, because it considers that he pursued conservative policies and cut social spending.
Catalonia, home to 7.5 million people, is the second-largest region in Spain and has the highest gross domestic product (GDP) among the regions at 199.78 billion euros ($223.71 billion) in 2014, accounting for 18.9 percent of national GDP.