CONTENT PREVIEW
Country Risk

Catalan regional elections restore pro-independence majority in heavily split vote, threatening renewed political instability in Spain

22 December 2017

Key Points

  • The result is likely to revive the Catalan “process”, its campaign to achieve independence, on the basis of pro-independence groups having retained a majority in a very high (81.94%) turnout.
  • With several pro-independence officials either jailed or abroad, the government formation process is likely to be complicated.
  • Main indicators to watch include whether or not the Spanish central government lifts Article 155 and whether the Spanish authorities release the Catalan officials currently in jail.

Event

The results of the regional elections maintained the previous political balance in the Catalan parliament, indicating the secessionist drive is likely to abide.

Catalonia heavily split

Catalan regional elections

Party

2017 seats/135

2015 seats/135

Cs

3725

JxC

3462/jointly with ERC

ERC

3262/jointly with JxC

PSC

1716

Comú

811

CUP

410

PP

311

In Catalan regional elections on 21 December, the combination of Together for Catalonia (Junts per Catalunya: JxCat) and Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya: ERC) won 66 of the 135 seats in the region’s parliament, up by two from 2015 when they stood jointly. Although the largest party in Catalonia’s parliament will be Citizens (Ciudadans: C’s), which won 37 seats, once the four seats of Popular Unity Candidacy (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular: CUP) are included, pro-independence groups retain an overall majority. A further 7.45% – or eight seats – went to Catalunya en Comú–Podem (Comú) (the Catalan branch of Podemos), which does not favour independence but does support granting the region a binding independence vote.

Axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (centre) pictured here in Brussels, Belgium, on 21 December 2017. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)Axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (centre) pictured here in Brussels, Belgium, on 21 December 2017. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

The biggest loser was the People’s Party (Partido Popular: PP) – which leads Spain’s national government – which saw its representation drop from 11 to three seats. This is widely attributed to tactical voting in favour of C’s, as well as perception of the national government's handling of the Catalan issue.

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