The party of ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has claimed victory for the separatist bloc in the regional election, despite coming second after the anti-independence Ciutadans (Citizens) party, led by 36-year-old lawyer Inés Arrimadas.
Arrimadas’ party may have won the highest number of votes for a single party, and 37 seats in the 135-member chamber, but the pro-independence parties secured the Catalan parliament majority with 70 seats, only two more than the 68-seat majority, as two separatist parties — Junts Per Catalunya, or Together for Catalonia, and Esquerra Republicana or Republican Left — scored 34 and 32 seats, respectively. With four more seats from a smaller pro-secession party that would give them the combined majority needed.
Spain’s government deposed Catalonia’s regional government after the Catalan parliament made an illegal declaration of independence on October 27, leading Puigdemont in self-exile in Brussels and other pro-independence leaders in prison. “The Catalan democracy has won the monarchy,” said Puigdemont from Brussels, as the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is now expected to face pressure and critical scrutiny, not just for gambling on the snap election, but his heavy-handed response to the Catalan government under Mr. Puigdemont’s calling of an independence referendum when the Guardia Civil were sent in and clashes broke out injuring hundreds of people.
“Mariano Rajoy has received a slap in the face from Catalonia,” added Puigdemont that was expected to return to Brussels if his party won. However, no announcements of this kind were made and the ousted president called for another press conference on Friday in Brussels.
Arrimadas’ insufficient victory
“Today we have opted for the union of all Catalans, we have voted to unite, in favor of coexistence, common sense and a Catalonia for all,” said Arrimadas as her supporters chanted “president, president” in Plaça d’Espanya, Barcelona.
According to the winner of Thursday’s Catalan elections, this victory “makes it more visible that Catalonia is plural” and that has sent a “message” to Spain and the world that “the social majority feels Catalan, Spanish and European, and will continue to do so.“
As of this Thursday, “it has become clearer that the social majority of Catalans is in favor of the union,” and assured that the separatists “will never be able to speak on behalf of Catalonia.”