Sun, 27-May-2018, 19:09
Sun, 27-May-2018, 19:09

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Catalan crisis: No mood for compromise after close vote

Catalan crisis: No mood for compromise after close vote

The day after elections in Catalonia deepened the split between its separatist parties and the Spanish government, both sides are in a defiant mood.
The elections gave the three pro-independence parties a slight majority in the regional Parliament, underscoring the resilience of their vote after three months of upheaval. After a record turnout of over 80%, they won 70 of the 135 seats, compared with 72 in the 2015 elections.

Separatist parties in Spain's Catalonia win majority in election
Separatist parties in Spain's Catalonia win majority in election
But again they won a fraction less than half of the total votes cast (nearly 48%), slightly less than they did in 2015. The party of former Catalan President Carlos Puigdemont won 34 seats -- even though he has been in self-imposed exile in Belgium since October.
Puigdemont described the vote as a slap in the face for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
"We have won this election in exceptional circumstances, with candidates in prison, with the government in exile and without having the same resources as the state," Puigdemont said in Brussels.
And he issued a challenge to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy: a meeting without preconditions somewhere in Europe to resolve the crisis.
Center-right party Ciudadanos (Citizens) candidate Inés Arrimadas (R) celebrates the poll results in the Catalan regional election. The party is known locally as Ciutadans
Center-right party Ciudadanos (Citizens) candidate Inés Arrimadas (R) celebrates the poll results in the Catalan regional election. The party is known locally as Ciutadans
Rajoy wasn't taking the bait. In remarks in Madrid Friday, he said the vote showed that Catalonia was deeply divided. And he pointed out that a pro-union party, Ciudadanos (Citizens), known in Catalonia as Ciutadans, had outpolled every other party. It became the largest in the Catalan parliament, with 37 seats.
The trouble for Rajoy is that his own Popular Party was hammered -- losing eight of its 11 seats in the Parliament. His goal of lancing the boil of the Catalan separatist movement through these elections has backfired. Party spokesman Rafael Hernando said only that the government and Senate in Madrid remained the most solid guarantee against the forces of independence.
Related: Spain's Rajoy rejects ex-Catalan leader's call to meet
The result suggests further uncertainty in a region that accounts for a quarter of Spain's gross domestic product, and possibly months of haggling over the formation of a regional government, with seven parties represented in the Parliament. The pro-independence parties are not exactly a coherent bloc, and if they fail to form a government by April next year there would be yet another election.
Voters line up outside a polling station in Barcelona, Spain.
Voters line up outside a polling station in Barcelona, Spain.
Forming a majority will be complicated by the fact that several of those elected are either in detention or self-imposed exile.
In effect, Rajoy's attempt to resolve the crisis through new elections has only cemented the status quo. But the pro-independence parties will probably think twice before trying an encore in declaring Catalonia's separation from Spain, given the sequence of events that was triggered in October. Additionally, the most radical of the pro-independence parties, the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), did very poorly and in winning less than half the popular vote they lack a mandate to declare independence.
The upheaval -- the worst constitutional crisis in Spain's four decades as a democracy -- began with the Catalan government holding a referendum on the region's future on October 1, despite it being declared illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court. The vote was marred by violence, with the Civil Guard sent in by Madrid to try to prevent voting. Despite a boycott by most pro-union voters, the separatist parties used the result to push the declaration of independence through Parliament.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a session of the Spanish Senate in Madrid. Rajoy asked the Senate for the go-ahead to depose Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive in a bid to stop their independence drive.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a session of the Spanish Senate in Madrid. Rajoy asked the Senate for the go-ahead to depose Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive in a bid to stop their independence drive.

Maria Salut, 50, center, celebrates the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia outside the Catalan Parliament, in Barcelona, Spain.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Maria Salut, 50, center, celebrates the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia outside the Catalan Parliament, in Barcelona, Spain.

A book of the Spanish Constitution is placed on the benches of opposition Catalan lawmakers who left the chamber to boycott a vote on independence inside the Catalan parliament. Catalonia's regional government passed a motion saying they are establishing an independent Catalan Republic.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
A book of the Spanish Constitution is placed on the benches of opposition Catalan lawmakers who left the chamber to boycott a vote on independence inside the Catalan parliament. Catalonia's regional government passed a motion saying they are establishing an independent Catalan Republic.

Protesters holds banners that read ''freedom'' in Catalan and include portraits of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the imprisoned leaders of two Catalan grassroots organizations, during a rally outside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Protesters holds banners that read ''freedom'' in Catalan and include portraits of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the imprisoned leaders of two Catalan grassroots organizations, during a rally outside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona.

A protester appears to pray as she takes part in a rally outside the Catalan Parliament.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
A protester appears to pray as she takes part in a rally outside the Catalan Parliament.

People wave "estelada," or pro-independence flags, outside the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, October 27, after Catalonia's regional Parliament passed a motion it says establishes an independent Catalan Republic.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
People wave "estelada," or pro-independence flags, outside the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, October 27, after Catalonia's regional Parliament passed a motion it says establishes an independent Catalan Republic.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont casts his vote for independence from Spain at the Generalitat de Catalunya on October 27, 2017, in Barcelona, Spain. Members of the Catalan Parliament voted for independence following a two-day session on how to respond the Spanish government's enacting of Article 155, which would curtail Catalan autonomy.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont casts his vote for independence from Spain at the Generalitat de Catalunya on October 27, 2017, in Barcelona, Spain. Members of the Catalan Parliament voted for independence following a two-day session on how to respond the Spanish government's enacting of Article 155, which would curtail Catalan autonomy.

Opposition Catalan lawmakers place Spanish national flags and Catalan esteladas over the benches ahead of a vote on independence inside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, Spain.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Opposition Catalan lawmakers place Spanish national flags and Catalan esteladas over the benches ahead of a vote on independence inside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, Spain.

A deputy of Catalonian Parliament, who is oppose to independence of Catalonia holds a "No" ballot during the independence voting at Catalonian Parliament in Barcelona, Spain.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
A deputy of Catalonian Parliament, who is oppose to independence of Catalonia holds a "No" ballot during the independence voting at Catalonian Parliament in Barcelona, Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a session of the Spanish Senate in Madrid. Rajoy asked the Senate for the go-ahead to depose Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive in a bid to stop their independence drive.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a session of the Spanish Senate in Madrid. Rajoy asked the Senate for the go-ahead to depose Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive in a bid to stop their independence drive.

Maria Salut, 50, center, celebrates the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia outside the Catalan Parliament, in Barcelona, Spain.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Maria Salut, 50, center, celebrates the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia outside the Catalan Parliament, in Barcelona, Spain.

A book of the Spanish Constitution is placed on the benches of opposition Catalan lawmakers who left the chamber to boycott a vote on independence inside the Catalan parliament. Catalonia's regional government passed a motion saying they are establishing an independent Catalan Republic.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
A book of the Spanish Constitution is placed on the benches of opposition Catalan lawmakers who left the chamber to boycott a vote on independence inside the Catalan parliament. Catalonia's regional government passed a motion saying they are establishing an independent Catalan Republic.

Protesters holds banners that read ''freedom'' in Catalan and include portraits of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the imprisoned leaders of two Catalan grassroots organizations, during a rally outside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Protesters holds banners that read ''freedom'' in Catalan and include portraits of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the imprisoned leaders of two Catalan grassroots organizations, during a rally outside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona.

A protester appears to pray as she takes part in a rally outside the Catalan Parliament.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
A protester appears to pray as she takes part in a rally outside the Catalan Parliament.

People wave "estelada," or pro-independence flags, outside the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, October 27, after Catalonia's regional Parliament passed a motion it says establishes an independent Catalan Republic.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
People wave "estelada," or pro-independence flags, outside the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, October 27, after Catalonia's regional Parliament passed a motion it says establishes an independent Catalan Republic.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont casts his vote for independence from Spain at the Generalitat de Catalunya on October 27, 2017, in Barcelona, Spain. Members of the Catalan Parliament voted for independence following a two-day session on how to respond the Spanish government's enacting of Article 155, which would curtail Catalan autonomy.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont casts his vote for independence from Spain at the Generalitat de Catalunya on October 27, 2017, in Barcelona, Spain. Members of the Catalan Parliament voted for independence following a two-day session on how to respond the Spanish government's enacting of Article 155, which would curtail Catalan autonomy.

Opposition Catalan lawmakers place Spanish national flags and Catalan esteladas over the benches ahead of a vote on independence inside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, Spain.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Opposition Catalan lawmakers place Spanish national flags and Catalan esteladas over the benches ahead of a vote on independence inside the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, Spain.

A deputy of Catalonian Parliament, who is oppose to independence of Catalonia holds a "No" ballot during the independence voting at Catalonian Parliament in Barcelona, Spain.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
A deputy of Catalonian Parliament, who is oppose to independence of Catalonia holds a "No" ballot during the independence voting at Catalonian Parliament in Barcelona, Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a session of the Spanish Senate in Madrid. Rajoy asked the Senate for the go-ahead to depose Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive in a bid to stop their independence drive.
Photos: Catalonia declares independence from Spain as political crisis deepens
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attends a session of the Spanish Senate in Madrid. Rajoy asked the Senate for the go-ahead to depose Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his executive in a bid to stop their independence drive.

That led Madrid to dissolve the Catalan government, arrest leading pro-independence politicians and call fresh elections.
How Catalonia's independence crisis unfolded

How Catalonia's independence crisis unfolded 02:24
The turmoil has had a chilling effect on Catalonia's economy, Foreign investment fell by 75% in the third quarter of this year compared to a year ago. Two of Spain's largest banks -- Caixa and Sabadell -- decided to move their headquarters out of Catalonia -- as did some 3,000 other companies. The latest result, and the uncertainty that lies ahead, won't have them hurrying back to Catalonia.

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