World Update

Catalan secessionist parties poised to secure absolute majority in local vote – preliminary results

Pro-independence parties are expected to again secure an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament, official preliminary results suggest. Exit polls after the snap regional election indicate a similar trend.

The preliminary results, based on some 76 percent of the counted votes released by the regional government, appeared to confirm the exit polls. The trio of pro-independence parties: the Together for Catalonia (JxCat), headed by deposed regional president Carles Puigdemont, the Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) are likely to secure between 67 and 71 parliamentary seats collectively, with 68 required for an absolute majority in the 135-seat assembly, according to exit polls published by the La Vanguardia newspaper.

READ MORE: Hungry for independence? Pollster bypasses Catalan election ban by using food survey

While the preliminary results signal a likely victory for the secessionists, it shows a great rift among Catalans on the question of independence. The unionist and pro-independence parties are only separated by a couple percent of votes.

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The snap elections were called by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in October, in the aftermath of the independence referendum deemed illegal by Madrid. The October 1 independence plebiscite was marred by a central government sanctioned police crackdown on voters.

Madrid tried to downplay the violence, claiming that media materials on the chaotic referendum, contained “fake pictures.” The actions of Madrid, however, were condemned by several international organizations, including Human Rights Watch.

The NGO analyzed photos and videos from the day pf the referendum and concluded they depicted “disproportionate use of force” against peaceful demonstrators “expressing their political opinion.”

Following the declaration of independence by the Catalan government late in October, Spain responded by suspending the region’s autonomy and dismissing its government. Several pro-independence politicians were jailed, while deposed president Puigdemont managed to flee to Brussels. He had said that he would return to Catalonia if he wins. His supporters, however, fear he might be arrested, since Madrid has accused the politician of inciting a rebellion and misusing public funds.

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