SEPARATIST parties won an absolute majority of seats in Catalonia’s regional parliament yesterday, deepening a standoff with Spain’s central government over independence.
The main secessionist group Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) won 62 seats in the 135-strong assembly in Spain’s wealthy northeastern region, while smaller leftist party CUP won another 10 seats, official results showed.
They jointly won 47.33 per cent of the vote.
“Catalans have voted yes to independence,” acting Catalan regional government head Artur Mas told supporters after 70.78 per cent of the vote was counted.
Both secessionist parties have said that they will unilaterally declare independence within 18 months, something the central government in Madrid says it will block in court because the Spanish constitution does not allow it. There is concern that if the region does break away from Spain, there could be financial and economic instability.
Spain’s central bank has warned that there could be serve economic consequences of a split. The governor of the Bank of Spain, Luis Maria Linde, recently said he saw little chance of Catalonia breaking away.
He cautioned that without the backing of the European Central Bank, capital controls on Catalan bank deposits could follow. Catalonia, may also refuse to pay its share of the national debt if a deal with Madrid is not reached, he added.
Catalonia currently makes up 16 per cent of Spanish population and accounts for a fifth of the national economy.
However, the people of Catalan remain unsure a vote for independence will actually lead to it. A poll in local paper Vanguardia found that just 20 per cent of Catalan voters actually believe the secessionist campaign will lead to a split.