Ex-Catalan leader claims win for separatist bloc

Although the anti-separatist Citizens Party won the most seats with 37, the pro-independence bloc of parties won a larger number combined.

Mr Puigdemont’s party won the second largest number of seats with 34.

The other two pro-independence parties won 32 seats and four seats, which, combined with Mr Puigdemont’s party, gives a total of 70, exceeding the 68 needed for an absolute majority.

Ex-Catalan leader claims win for separatist bloc
Ex-Catalan leader claims win for separatist bloc

Mr Puigdemont will need to hold negotiations with the other pro-separatist parties to see if they can form a coalition.

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Catalonia went to the polls after its government was dissolved by Madrid who deemed its declaration of independence in October “illegal”.

People react to results in Catalonia's regional elections at a gathering of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) in Barcelona, Spain December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Image:Turnout was predicted at 82%

Mr Puigdemont says Thursday’s majority by separatist parties was a victory for the “Catalan republic” over the Spanish state, and said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his allies “have lost”.

The ousted Catalan leader was speaking from Brussels, where he went into self-imposed exile after his government was sacked by Mr Rajoy when he declared independence from Spain.

“This is a result which no one can dispute,” Mr Puigdemont told supporters in Brussels.

“I think we have earned our right to be listened to.”

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Mr Puigdemont said it was “a slap” for the Spanish PM, adding: “Rajoy has lost the mandate he sought.”

The leader of the pro-Spanish party that won the most votes promised her party will continue to fight the region’s separatists.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 29: Protesters wave Spanish flags during a pro-unity demonstration on October 29, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. Thousands of pro-unity protesters gather in Barcelona, two days after the Catalan Parliament voted to split from Spain. The Spanish government has responded by imposing direct rule and dissolving the Catalan parliament. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

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“The pro-secession forces can never again claim they speak for all of Catalonia,” Ines Arrimadas said.

“We are going to keep fighting for a peaceful co-existence, common sense and for a Catalonia for all Catalans.”

“Today we have sent a message to the world, that the majority of Catalans feel Catalan, Spanish and European and will continue to do so,” she added.

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It is unclear what Mr Puigdemont’s next move will be, and Sky’s Europe Correspondent Mark Stone said the ousted leader is still at risk of being arrested when he returns to Spain.

“There is no longer an international arrest warrant out for him, but there is a domestic arrest warrant and up until the point of this election the Spanish authorities were clear that if he were to return to Spain, he would be arrested.”

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