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Spain's Catalan nationalists win elections in local parliament

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Spain’s Catalan nationalist party Convergencia I Union (CiU) led by Artur Mas won the elections in the Catalan Parliament on Sunday, but failed to win an absolute majority that it expects to govern alone.

CiU secured 50 seats of the 135-seat local parliament in the elections, a setback from its previous 62 seats, which appeared to be a failure of its pro-independence campaign.

Another nationalist party Esquerra Republicans (ERC) obtained 21 seats, the second biggest presence in the Catalan parliament, followed by the Socialists with 20 seats, and the Popular Party led by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with 19 seats.

Three other parties, including two pro-independence nationalist ones that want a referendum on independence, split the remaining 25 seats.

Despite CiU’s defeat, the elections were largely believed to be the triumph of the Catalan nationalists, who actually have secured a majority to call a referendum on independence from Spain. However, several minority parties now in the Catalan parliament blocked the way.

The Popular Party obtained 19 seats and improved from two years ago.Other anti-independence parties also have a total of 22 seats.

There is little doubt that Mas will remain as the Catalan leader, but differences do exist between his party and the others. He has to work with other parties well to keep a simple majority of 68 seats in the regional parliament.

On Sunday night, Mas recognized the necessity to have the support of another party to govern, though CiU is still the largest group in Catalan’s parliament.

Catalonia, located in northeastern Spain, is an economically powerful region in the country.

The current debt crisis in Spain has further strained the relations between Spain’s central government and Catalonia which is complaining that the region contributes more each year than it gets back from the country.


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