Socialist win in Catalan election 'ends decade of division': Spain's PM

AFP - [email protected]
Socialist win in Catalan election 'ends decade of division': Spain's PM
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (R) and PSC candidate Salvador Illa wave from stage during the Catalan Socialist Party - PSC closing rally ahead of the regional elections in Catalonia. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

Spain's leader Pedro Sánchez said Thursday his Socialist party's success in the Catalan elections ended a "decade of division" in the wealthy northeastern region, long governed by separatists.


"The Catalan Socialist party's victory... ends a decade of division and resentment within Catalan society and will doubtlessly open a new era of understanding and coexistence," the prime minister said in his first remarks since Sunday's election.

The Socialists coming top in the vote was a blow for the Catalan separatist parties which lost their governing majority in the region's parliament that they have dominated for the past decade.


Since becoming premier some nine months after the botched independence bid of October 2017, Sánchez has adopted a policy of "reengagement" with the wealthy northeastern region to "heal the wounds" opened by the crisis.

In 2021, he pardoned the separatists jailed over the secession bid and has pushed through an amnesty bill for those still wanted by the justice system in exchange for key separatist backing that let him secure a new term in office.

That bill is due to become law in the coming weeks which will allow Carles Puigdemont - the Catalan leader who led the secession bid then fled Spain to avoid prosecution - to finally return home.

Despite Sunday's result, in which the separatist parties secured 59 of the parliament's 135 seats, Puigdemont - whose hardline JxCat party came second - said he would seek to build a ruling coalition.

READ MORE: Catalan separatist kingpin refuses to give up on ruling despite 'pro-Spain win'

"We have an opportunity and we will make the most of it," he said in the southern French town of Perpignan.

ERC, JxCat's more moderate separatist rival, lost a lot of support in Sunday's vote, triggering a crisis within the party.

Even so, it is likely to play a key role in Puigdemont's coalition-building efforts as well as those of the Catalan Socialists, who won with 42 seats -- also a long way from the 68 mandates required to rule.

Analysts say the most likely option would see the Socialists allying with the radical left party Comuns Sumar, which won six seats, and ERC, which won 20, giving it exactly 68.

READ ALSO: Which Catalans want independence from Spain?



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