Pro-independence parties will continue to enjoy a majority in Catalonia’s regional parliament following snap elections imposed by Madrid.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who dissolved the previous Catalan parliament and imposed direct rule after it declared independence following an “illegal” referendum on independence, had hoped a supposed “silent majority” of Catalonian unionists would sweep the independentists out of power.
But independentists secured 47.5 per cent of the popular vote and retained an absolute majority of 70 seats out of 135 in the regional assembly, after voters turned out in record numbers.
“The Spanish state was defeated. Rajoy and his allies lost,” said the region’s former president Carlos Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium after the Spanish authorities began rounding up members of his government following the declaration of independence.
EU Commission defends police brutality in Catalonia as “proportionate use of force” – a wake-up call for liberals? https://t.co/RDQnZGhsqw
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) October 4, 2017
The results come as a heavy blow to the European Union, which risked massive reputational damage among European liberals by backing the Spanish government throughout the current crisis — even going so far as to endorse the Spanish police brutality deployed in an effort to shut down the aforementioned referendum as “proportionate use of force”.
Catalonia is a broadly left-liberal region, with much of the political class favouring mass migration and multiculturalism, and the leaders of the independence movement tended to be staunch europhiles — until the bloc’s behaviour in the referendum and its aftermath called their values into question.
Puigdemont went so far as to openly condemn the EU as a “club of decadent and obsolescent countries controlled by a small few and closely linked to increasingly debatable economic interests”, questioning whether or not Catalonia had a future within it.
“Let’s see what the people of Catalonia say. Perhaps there are not many people who want to be part of this EU … so insensitive to the abuse of human rights, of the democratic right of a part of its territory only because a post-Franco Right wants it to be that way,” he said.
He has since softened his stance somewhat, but the EU’s refusal to countenance any change in stance even after this latest vote looks set to strengthen a nascent Catalan euroscepticism.