Brussels, Dec 22: Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont has declared that the Spanish state has been “defeated” after pro-separatist parties gained a majority in the region’s dramatic elections.
As the final results came in Puigdemont, who is currently exiled in Brussels, said: “The Spanish state has been defeated and Rajoy has received a slap in the face from Catalonia.”
He hailed the result as a victory for the “Catalan republic”, the BBC reported.
Millions headed to the polls in Thursday’s crucial vote on the regional parliament, which was called by Madrid after it declared October’s Catalan independence referendum illegal. Turnout was more than 80 per cent, a record for a Catalan regional election.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy deposed Catalonia’s regional government after it made an illegal declaration of independence following the referendum in October.
Rajoy now faces the prospect of further confrontation with a separatist coalition once again in power in Barcelona. His conservative Popular Party (PP) recorded its worst ever result in the vote.
With nearly all votes counted, the pro-independence parties Together for Catalonia (JxCat), Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Popular Unity (CUP) were on course to win a total of 70 seats in total, giving them a majority in the new parliament.
An anti-independence party Citizens (Cs) had 25.3 per cent of the vote, winning 37 seats in the 135-seat chamber. Its leader Inés Arrimadas told the BBC her party had been “victorious”. She said forming a coalition would be “difficult – but we will try”.
Agusti Alcoberro, vice president of Catalan National Assembly, said: “We can say that pro-independence forces have won the elections.”
He told a crowd in Barcelona’s Maritime Museum that “we demand the restitution of the (Catalan) government and the release of the political prisoners”.
The ousted Catalonia leader said: “This is a result which no-one can dispute.”
The European Commission said that its stance towards Catalonia remained the same, despite the election result. The executive arm of the EU previously stated that events in Catalonia were an internal issue for Spain.
Catalonia is one of Spain’s wealthiest and most productive regions and has a distinct history dating back almost 1,000 years. Before the Spanish Civil War, it enjoyed broad autonomy but that was suppressed under General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship from 1939-75.