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POLITICS

Separatist party wins EU vote in Catalonia

A long-standing separatist party, the Republican Left (ERC), won the European Parliament elections in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia on Sunday, official results showed.

Separatist party wins EU vote in Catalonia
A supporter of the Pro-Independent Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) waves a Catalan Independentist flag, during a campaign meeting for the European Parliament elections. Photo: Jose Lago/AFP

The party captured 23.67 percent of the vote, beating the Convergence and Union (CiU) party, the biggest formation in Catalonia's local parliament, which came in second with 21.86 percent of the vote.

The CiU President of Catalonia Artur Mas put a positive spin on the result saying it was a confirmation that a planned November 9th poll on the issue of independence for the region should go ahead.

The Spanish Parliament has declared the planned unilateral vote in Catalonia illegal on the grounds that all Spaniards have the right to vote on whether a single region can become independent.

But Mas how vowed the vote will go ahead.

"It's all moving forward, not one step back," he Mas at the end of a EU electoral campaign dominated by the sovereignty debate.

ERC leader Oriol Junqueras also chalked up the victory as another step towards possible independence for the region.

"This result in the service of the November 9th referendum, and also in the service of the institutional stability of Catalonia, because this stability is indispensable for the referendum to turn out well," he said.

The strong interest in the EU elections campaign in Catalonia was also marked by a relatively high turnout — up more than 10 percent on 2009 figures to 47.6 percent.

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SPANISH POLITICS

What the PP’s landslide win in Andalusia means for Spain’s ruling Socialists

A resounding win by Spain's conservative Popular Party in a weekend regional election in Andalusia appears to have boosted its chances in national elections next year and weakened Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

What the PP's landslide win in Andalusia means for Spain's ruling Socialists

The Popular Party (PP) secured 58 seats in Sunday’s election in Spain’s most populous region — three more than the 55 needed for an absolute majority. That constitutes its best-ever result in the longstanding Socialist stronghold.

The Socialists won 30 seats, their worst-ever result in Andalusia. It governed there without interruption between 1982 and 2018, when it was ousted from power by a coalition between the PP and centre-right Ciudadanos.

This was the Socialists’ third consecutive regional election loss to the PP after votes in Madrid in May 2021 and Castilla y Leon in February.

Sanchez’s government has been struggling to deal with the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has fuelled inflation worldwide, especially through increasing energy prices.

Socialist party officials argued the results of a regional election “can’t be extrapolated” nationally.

But in an editorial, centre-left daily El Pais said no one can deny the gulf in the election scores obtained between the two parties in two of Spain’s most populated regions — Andalusia and Madrid.

This was “more than just a stumble”, it argued.

“This may be a symptom of a change in the political cycle” at the national level, it added. The conservative daily ABC took a similar line.

‘Worn down’

Pablo Simon, political science professor at the Carlos III University, said this “new cycle” in which “the right is stronger” began when the PP won a landslide in a regional election in Madrid in May 2021.

It could culminate with the PP coming out on top in the next national election expected at the end of 2023, he added.

But Cristina Monge, a political scientist at the University of Zaragoza, took a more cautious line.

“The government is worn down after four difficult years due to the pandemic” and the war in Ukraine, which has fuelled inflation, she said.

She refused to “draw a parallel” between Andalusia and Spain, arguing “there is still a lot of time” before the next national election.

Sanchez come to power in June 2018 after former PP prime minister Mariano Rajoy was voted out of office in a no-confidence motion triggered by a long-running corruption scandal.

The PP then suffered its worst-ever results in the next general election in 2019, which the Socialists won.

Sunday’s election was the first since veteran politician Alberto Núñez Feijóo, a moderate, took over as leader of the PP from Pablo Casado following a period of internal party turbulence.

Partido Popular (PP) candidate for the Andalusian regional election Juanma Moreno greets supporters during a meeting following the Andalusian regional elections, in Seville on June 19, 2022. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

‘Packing his bags’

“People are fed up with Sanchez,” the PP’s popular regional leader of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, said Monday.

“If national elections had been held yesterday, the result would have been the same and today he would be packing his bags,” she added.

Up until now, the far-right Vox party had supported the PP in Andalusia but from outside government.

This time around however, it had said its support would be conditional on getting a share of the government of the southern region.

But the PP’s commanding victory in Andalusia means that is now moot: it no longer has to rely on far-right party Vox to govern.

At the national level, it could be a different story however, said Pablo Simon.

A PP government nationally that did not rely on Vox would be “impossible” due to the fragmentation of parliament, which has several regional and separatist parties.

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