Catalans vote in regional election set to gauge support for separatist movement

Catalonia is holding a regional election which is likely to reverberate in Spain’s national politics.

The ballot is a test both for the strength of the separatist movement in the wealthy north-eastern region and for the policies of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

More than 5.7 million voters are eligible to choose politicians for the regional parliament based in Barcelona.

Separatists have held the regional government for more than a decade. But polling and a national election in July show that support for secession has shrunk somewhat since former regional president Carles Puigdemont led an illegal – and futile – breakaway bid in 2017.

Mr Puigdemont is a fugitive from Spain’s laws since he fled the country days after his failed secession attempt.

But that has not stopped him from running in this election as he campaigns from southern France. He has said he will return to Spain when the newly-elected politicians convene to choose a regional president at some point after the election.

By that time, Mr Puigdemont hopes to be cleared of any legal troubles after Spain’s parliament gives final approval to a contentious amnesty for him and hundreds of other separatists.

The amnesty forms part of Mr Sanchez’s intense push to reduce tensions in Catalonia that has also included the pardoning of jailed high-profile separatists.

If voters do not validate that by coming out in support of his Socialist party, then it would be a blow to the leader who heads a minority coalition in Madrid.

Mr Sanchez has campaigned alongside Salvador Illa, the candidate of the Socialists. Mr Illa won the most votes in a 2021 regional election but was unable to stop separatist Pere Aragones from forming a government.

The election will also feature a battle inside the separatist camp between Mr Puigdemont’s conservative Together party and Mr Aragones’s Republican Left of Catalonia.

An upstart pro-secession, far-right party called Catalan Alliance, which campaigns against unauthorised immigration as well as the Spanish state, will hope to earn parliamentary representation.

A total of nine parties are running and no single one is expected to come close to winning enough votes to reach the absolute majority of 68 seats in the chamber. So deal-making will be critical.

Polls close at 6pm local time and results are expected later on Sunday evening.


No votes yet.
Please wait...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *