Catalonia Separatists Dominate Elections But Independence From Spain Unlikely

 @crvillarreal
on November 26 2012 1:55 PM
catalonia
Convergencia i Unio (CIU) party's candidate Artur Mas for Catalunya's regional government waves as supporters make a giant Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) in the background during a meeting in Barcelona. REUTERS

Secessionist parties in the Catalonia region of Spain have taken a majority of seats in the parliament after early elections Sunday, but the bid for independence from Spain will require the cooperation of two opposition factions.

The center-right Convergencia i Unio (CiU) coalition held a majority of the seats with 50 out of 135, though it lost a dozen, while the left-leaning Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party more than doubled its seats from 10 to 21.

CiU leader and Catalan President Artur Mas has pushed for a referendum on independence, but lacking an absolute majority, his coalition will have to find common ground with the ERC.

"I am happy with tonight's results, but not as happy as I could have been," Mas said, the BBC reported.

Mas has argued that Catalonia, Spain’s largest economic region, would be better off as an independent state within the E.U., tapping into public discontent in the region over the country’s deepening economic crisis.

While the CiU and ERC share mutual goals of separating Catalonia from Spain, they disagree strongly on economic policies, which make prospects for cooperation less likely.

Furthermore, a referendum on independence would not be legal under the current constitution, and it is not likely that the central government in Madrid under the Popular Party would allow the region to hold such a vote.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has strongly criticized Mas over the calls for independence, saying he is drawing attention away from his own handling of the economy in the region and failing to address the crisis in a practical manner.

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