Catalonian separatists seem set to form government following vote

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dpa/GNA – Catalonian parties that back separation from Spain are pushing to form a new government in the regional parliament a day after elections that saw support spread across multiple parties, but the majority of votes are going to groups backing a split.

It was hard to see a clear mandate out of the results, with turnout only at 53 per cent and a party that does not back separatism, the socialists, taking the biggest single chunk of votes, which would give them 33 of the 68 seats needed to control the 135-member legislature.

However, the left-wing separatist party Esquerra Republicana (ERC) also garnered 33 seats, despite taking fewer votes, a feature of the way votes are weighted regionally. Furthermore, it is trying to cobble together a coalition of separatist-leaning parties that would give it 74 seats.

Since elections in December 2017, the ERC has led a minority government together with the liberal-conservative and separatist Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), which has 32 seats, and boosted by the support of one smaller party with nine seats.

Laura Borras, the head of Together for Catalonia, told broadcaster TV3 that her party would have “no problem whatsoever” supporting ERC leader Pere Aragones in a bid to be the local legislative leader.
In the current government, together for Catalonia was the bigger party and named the leader.

Separatist-minded parties agreed before the vote that they would never work with the socialists, who nearly doubled their take of seats from 17 to 33 in this election. That leaves the party with little obvious route to building a government, even though its initial claim to try to form a coalition is as strong as ERC’s.

Catalonian separatism has long been a divisive issue in the region. The matter grew to a head in 2017, when separatists forced a referendum on the matter, which prompted the central Madrid government to break up the then regional government and put several leaders in jail. But voters responded by sending separatists back into government the next time there were votes.

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