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Do Catalan Election Results Signal The End Of Catalonia’s Plans For Independence From Spain?

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Salvador Illa took centre stage at the celebrations of the Socialist Party and why not. He spearheaded the campaign for the ruling party that has now given Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez‘s party its biggest vote share in the Catalan elections.
Even though the Socialists do not have a full majority with 42 seats in a chamber of 135, it is ahead of the hardline separatists party – Junts, that had to settle for second place with 35 seats. The majority mark is at 68.
Addressing supporters Catalan Socialist Leader Salvador Illa said, “Catalonia today has decided to start up, to function with respect, courtesy and counting on everyone and also with ambition. With ambition to once again lead Spain economically.”
This win will not only be a big setback for the decade-long separatist movement but also a vindication for Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. The PM had made a controversial gamble to normalise relations with Catalonia which included issuing pardons for convictions over the independence drive. He also sought to give amnesty to others who are still in prison.
Catalan – the wealthy northwestern region of Spain that borders France, has for a decade now nurtured dreams of self-governance and independence but these results show that they are probably running out of steam. The separatists in Catalonia led a 2017 illegal independence referendum and declaration of independence that caused Spain’s worst institutional crisis in more than 30 years.
The leader of the hardline Junts party, Carles Puigdemont, is currently in exile. He ran his campaign by holding rallies in the French town of Argeles-sur-Mer, near the Spanish border. His supporters were brought in on buses, sometimes as many as six in a day. But the slogans and loud cheers have not translated into tangible results for the party.
Pro-independence leaders have also said the low voter turnout of 58% hit their voting base as separatist voters didn’t turn up in large numbers to vote. Speaking to his supporters in the French town after the results became clear, Puigdemont said, “This fact forces a long-delayed reflection within the independence movement on the effects of disunity and also the effects of a lack of a shared strategy (of pro-independence parties). Both issues have long been denounced from within our political formation.”
Puigdemont fled to Belgium in 2017 to avoid prosecution. He has an arrest warrant in his name in Spain.
But now he plans to return as a part of a new controversial amnesty bill put forward by the national government to clean the legal records of Catalan separatists in exchange for their backing in Spain’s parliament.