president wins votes, but loses seats in Parliament - first exit poll
President of Catalonia and leader of the CiU (Catalan Convergence and
Unity) party Artur Mas (C) casts his ballot for regional elections in
Barcelona on November 25, 2012. (AFP Photo/Josep Lago)
polls show that Catalan president Artur Mas received a majority of
votes and will maintain his coalition government. His win may lead to
a referendum on Catalan independence, as Mas says separatism could
cure the country's financial problems.
Mas’s center-right Convergence and Union Party (CIU) party gets
between 54 and 57 seats in the 135-seat Parliament so far. But in
order to hold a majority in the regional assembly, his coalition
would need at least 68 seats.
will now likely push forward with a promised referendum on
independence from Spain, which he and his supporters see as a way to
drag Catalonia out of a worsening financial crisis.
to make this referendum possible, Mas will now have to cooperate with
smaller pro-independence parties such as the Republican Left, or the
of the obstacles pro-referendum supporters may face is that Spanish
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy might use the country's constitution to
block a referendum, as Spain’s governing document prohibits any
kind of regional referendum without approval from the central
Spanish government argues that if Catalonia – considered one of
Spain’s richest and most stable regions – secedes, the results
would be disastrous for both Spain and Catalonia itself.
pays Madrid around 16 billion euro a year more in taxes than it gets
back from the central government. The region currently owes around 40
billion euro in debt, which has forced regional authorities to
introduce spending cuts to healthcare and education.
votes: President-elect to mull secession from Spain
are voting in the new parliamentary elections that could be the first
step towards a referendum on independence from Spain. The incumbent
president has called for a snap election, and promised to hold a vote
on secession if reelected.
cite financial troubles as one of the main reasons for wanting to
secede from Spain.
started voting at 9:00am local time (08:00 GMT). Polling stations
across the region will close their doors at eight in the evening
(1900 GMT) with exit polls expected to be announced shortly
than 5 million people are eligible to vote for candidates for the
135-seat Catalan parliament.
polls showed that a majority of Catalans strongly support, and would
vote for, parties that want the region to become independent from
1:00pm local time (1200 GMT), the voter turnout was reportedly
estimated to be higher than any of the previous seven elections since
1988, the Catalan government said.
elderly woman in a wheelchair casts her ballot for regional elections
in Barcelona on November 25, 2012 (AFP Photo / Lluis Gene)
President Artur Mas and his center-right Convergence and Union party
(CIU) is predicted to win 62 to 64 seats in Parliament. But in order
to hold a majority in regional assembly, his coalition needs at least
Catalonia is paying Madrid around 16 billion euro a year more in
taxes than it gets back from the central government, which has
insisted that public services endure austerity cuts. These measures
are in turn blamed as a cause of the Catalonia region's deficit and
Mas, president and leader of the center-right Convergence and Union
Party (CIU) has called for an early election in September after
Barcelona and Madrid failed to reach agreement on a new tax scheme.
Mas, current President of Catalonia and leader of the CiU (Catalan
Convergence and Unity party) gestures at the end of a final meeting
for his re-election campaign on November 23, 2012.(AFP Photo / Lluis
Catalan government asked for the right to set and collect the
region's tax rates, instead of sending the money to Madrid.
currently owes around 40 billion euro in debt, which has forced
regional authorities to introduce spending cuts in healthcare and
an autonomous region of Spain. It consists of four provinces:
Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Catalonia has a population
over 7.5 million, and its capital is Barcelona.
economic crisis in southern Europe has been a catalyst of this
movement. And people in Catalonia feel they have the capital and
resources to be better off if we are not part of Spain and there is a
lot of economic research that shows this,” for
CIU Party spokesperson Marc Guerrero told RT.
is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, producing one-fifth of the
country’s economic output.
is not fair, we are the ones doing our best economically and we
cannot have all the weight of the austerity measures when it is the
central government that is doing all the spending and not in the best
anger at Madrid’s policies sparked the country's biggest separatist
rally since the 1970s, with 1.5 million people coming out on
September 11, Catalonian National Day. The mass protest led Mas to
shift his party's official position on independence to "Let
the people decide."
of independence for Catalonia demonstrate on September 11, 2012.(AFP
Photo / Josep Lago)
flags can now be seen hanging from balconies throughout Barcelona,
reflecting a growing desire for regional autonomy and a drive to
break away the central government, Andrew Farmer reported from the
the proposed referendum violates the Spanish constitution, and
secession from Spain could also mean dropping out of the European
Union. Anti-separatists believe it could do more harm than good.
for Catalonia would be an economic disaster. Multinational companies
locate in Barcelona for access to the Spanish market and being in the
EU. That would be lost. And uncertainty is the last thing the economy
needs during this current economic crisis,”
Citizens Party spokesperson Jordi Canas told RT.
suggests that Artur Mas will win reelection, but may not win a
majority of votes. Either way, unemployment, financial instability
and the austerity measures imposed by Madrid have led 46.4% of
Catalans to support independence, according to a recent survey. That
number is twice as many as before the ongoing financial crisis began
four years ago.
prominent figures in Spain argue that secession is illegal, and could
lead to a Spanish civil war.
of Catalan party ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya –
Republican Left from Catalonia) Oriol Junqueras reacts during a final
campaign meeting on November 23, 2012 in Girona.(AFP Photo / Quique
president of the Spanish Military Association, Colonel Leopoldo
Sánchez, suggested to Dutch television channel Niewsur that Spain
has the right “to
declare a state of war” over
threats of separatism.
members of parliament condemned the rhetoric, calling
it “inconceivable,”“fascistic” and “war-time
matter the outcome, the talk of secession could trigger a
deterioration of relations between Barcelona and Madrid, political
analyst Paolo Raffone told RT.
course the constitution does not allow separatism, the outcome is
quite unpredictable. I would say that whatever the outcome will be at
the end, the relationship between Barcelona and Madrid will be at
strain and they risk even to become violent,” he
is, anyway, key industrial area in Spain and it is the only one that
can eventually compete itself with the rest of Europe,” Raffone