EL PAÍS (Spain), BBC (UK), TÉLAM, CLARÍN (Argentina)
BARCELONA- Catalonian voters have backed the parties in local elections that are calling for separation from Spain, but the victory wasn’t as sweet or clear as pro-independence politicians would have liked.
The governing party, CiU, led by Artur Mas, holds onto the majority, after winning 50 out of 135 seats. However, the result is 12 seats fewer than in the last election (62) reports the Télam news agency in Argentina. The CiU and second largest party ERC have promised their voters that there will be a referendum on the separation of Catalonia from Spain.
Artur Mas. Photo Convergència Democratica de Catalunya
The early election was called after a row over funding with Madrid. Catalonia is one of the wealthiest regions in Spain and locals feel they are bearing a disproportionate share of the weight of the ongoing economic crisis. Mas and the CiU believe that the separate state would fare better as a member of the EU than as just a province of Spain, according to the BBC.
Under the current Spanish constitution, a referendum would be illegal and Mas faces many challenges to change this, especially from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the Popular Party. With a national debt of 40 billion euros, and 1 in 4 workers unemployed, the loss of Catalonia would be devastating for Spain.
El Mundo, the center-right Madrid daily, featured a sarcastic headline Monday: "Mas enters into history. Starring in the most ridiculous election in 30 years of autonomous rule." The Spanish paper confirms that the leader of the CiU will continue his push for independence, even with the complex parliamentary situation and a drop in support demonstated by the 70% turnout of voters yesterday.
El Mundo 26/11/12 via El Periodico
Though calls for independence have been loud, some Catalan voices on social media are starting to speak out for Spanish national unity. La Voz Libre reports that this campaign has been going on for the last few weeks to denounce the ruling party and make known that the separatist view is not shared by all of Catalonia. Even though the support levels for CiU visibly dropped and the seats were lost, the party still retains the majority and the plans for separation are still full steam ahead.
@pacomorales via Twitter: The will of the people is the people, all the people, plural and diverse #CataloniaisISnotCiU #itantsipodem @icveuia