Catalan election too close to call

Catalan election too close to call

The December 21 Catalan election campaign starts today (Tuesday) with polls suggesting it will be a tight contest with turnout playing a crucial role.

The three pro-independence parties need 68 seats to keep control of Catalonia’s legislature.
The election “must be an opportunity to stand for the civil rights and freedoms which have been violated by the Spanish state”, said pro-independence Cultural Omnium’s statement.
A government-commissioned CIS survey poll estimated that the three separatist parties in the parliament would win 66 or 67 seats.
It said 3,000 people were interviewed by telephone in late November.
The three separatist parties held a narrow majority of 72 out of the 135 seats until the parliament was dissolved last month.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is calling for an increased turnout among voters who are sceptical about independence to restore order after months of turmoil following the divisive October 1 referendum. A governing coalition that is not defined by its stance on independence could give Spain a chance to patch up its differences.

“This isn’t a question where voters are undecided, it’s a polarising issue and the key is whether you get your voters out,” said Kiko Llaneras of pollster Quantio, which is based in Madrid. “Pro-independence voters are very mobilised, so the scope to build on that is small.”
Another problem facing separatist parties is the collapse of the electoral alliance from 2015. Self-exiled regional president Carles Puigdemont is now competing with former ally Esquerra Republicana. Esquerra is set to overtake Puigdemont’s party with the most Catalan MPs, even though its leader and former vice president Oriol Junqueras is in jail in Madrid where the Supreme Court is investigating him over his role in the controversial declaration of independence that followed the referendum.
Junqueras and three other separatist leaders will remain in prison during the probe, a Spanish judge decided yesterday.
Spain is seeking to have Puigdemont and four of his ministers who fled to Belgium with him sent back to face similar charges.
Six other former ministers who were also remanded in custody last month were released on bail of €100,000 each as an investigation into charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds continued, the Madrid court said.
In previous elections, support for pro-independence parties has been squeezed as turnout has increased, although their rural support has allowed secessionists to maintain their parliamentary majority.

October protests in Barcelona. Picture credit: Wikimedia  

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