Spanish Socialists emerged as the party with the most votes in this Sunday’s Catalan elections, challenging more than a decade’s separatist rule in Spain’s wealthy northeastern region.

Led locally by Salvador Illa, they won 42 seats in the chamber of 135, while the separatist parties Junts and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) came in second and third place respectively.

The conservative Popular Party, Spain’s main opposition party, also saw a significant increase, rising from three to 15 seats since the last vote in 2021. However, voter turnout was notably low, reaching just 58%.

This result calls into question the continuity of separatist governance in Catalonia, which led an illegal independence referendum in 2017, triggering one of Spain’s biggest institutional crises in decades.

The Socialists’ victory can also be seen as support for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s policy of seeking a normalization of relations with Catalonia, including the issuing of pardons and a controversial amnesty for those involved in the independence campaign.

Despite the Socialists’ victory, no party won an absolute majority, which could lead to complex negotiations to form a government. The separatist parties, combined, do not have the 68 seats necessary to form a government coalition.

The socialists will have to seek an agreement, probably with the ERC, but so far the separatists have rejected any possibility of supporting the national ruling party.

Given this scenario, Illa will be able to explore unconventional alliances, including with far-left and right-wing parties. However, separatist leaders have already signaled their willingness to oppose the socialist-led government.

Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, political analysts highlight the fall in Catalan separatist sentiment as the main highlight of this election. The pro-independence movement appears to have lost its mobilization and persuasive strength, reflecting a new political dynamic in the region.

With information from Reuters


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