Catalonia vote: Pro-independence parties win elections
Pro-independence parties in Spain's Catalonia region have won an absolute majority in regional elections. The main separatist alliance and a smaller nationalist party won 72 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament. However, the pro-independence parties fell just short of getting 50% of the vote, winning 1.9 million out of 4 million ballots cast.
The separatists say the victory gives them a clear mandate to form an independent Catalan state. Spain's central government in Madrid has pledged to challenge any unilateral moves towards independence in court.
The "Junts per Si" ("Together for Yes") alliance won 62 seats. If it combines with the far-left separatist CUP party, which won 10 seats, it will be able to form a parliamentary majority.After a celebration rally, the pro-independence camp's leaders said they would now proceed towards the creation of an independent Catalan state.
Pablo Casado, spokesman for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's PP party, argued that the separatists had "failed" by not securing a majority of votes.Spain's government has consistently dismissed any secession plans as "nonsense".
The pro-independence parties said ahead of the vote that they considered it a de facto referendum on independence from Spain.
They argue that the Spanish government has consistently refused to allow a legally recognised referendum to take place, ignoring an unofficial vote backing independence in November 2014.Opinion polls suggest a majority of Catalans favour a referendum on independence but are evenly divided over whether they want to secede.