Catalan Independence Unlikely Despite Separatist Parties’ Gains

Catalan Independence Unlikely Despite Separatist Parties’ Gains
A pro-independence flag is waved at a rally with Catalan President Artur Mas, Barcelona, Spain, Sept. 27, 2015 (AP photo by Manu Fernandez).

Late last month, the pro-independence alliance Junts Pel Si, or Together For Yes, came in first place in regional elections in Catalonia, winning nearly 40 percent of the vote and 62 seats in the regional parliament. The other pro-independence party, Popular Unity Candidacy, known by its Catalan acronym, CUP, won 10 seats—a strong showing for the Catalan independence movement, but not enough for the pro-independence parties to win an overall majority of the votes, as they came in just shy with 48 percent. However, if Junts Pel Si and CUP form a coalition, they will have a majority of seats in parliament, which would allow them to press forward for independence.

But such a coalition is by no means a given. The leader of CUP, Antonio Banos, has been openly critical of Junts Pel Si and Catalan President Artur Mas, whose party, the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC), is in the Junts Pel Si alliance. An anti-capitalist party, CUP has been openly critical of austerity and privatization, policies that Mas has backed during his presidency.

The fact that the pro-independence parties did not win a majority of votes could also shape CUP’s willingness to form a coalition. Mas and Junts Pel Si say that a majority in parliament is sufficient to begin the process of a referendum on independence. CUP, however, believes a mandate for a referendum must come from a majority of votes. With such stark divisions, it isn’t surprising that CUP said that it would only join a governing coalition with Junts Pel Si if Mas was no longer president of Catalonia.

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