Spain to 'react' to EU ruling on Catalonia's Junqueras says expert
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Catalonia’s election is viewed as a litmus test for the region’s separatist movement. Two pro-independence parties currently govern the region, but opinion polls are split on who could win this time. Vox, an anti-EU far-right party, is gaining in the polls with a strong stance against pro-independence.
Vox’s breakthrough in Spanish regional politics dates back to December 2018 when they gained momentum in Andalusia.
Since then, Vox has become the third-largest political party in Spain’s national parliament.
In Sunday’s regional elections, the party is forecast to win as many as 10 of the 135 seats on offer.
The party is expected to win those voters who until the last elections turned to centre-right Ciudadanos.
Latest forecasts indicate that either of the two of the main separatist parties currently sharing power in Catalonia, the ERC or Junts Per Catalunya, or Spain’s ruling Socialist Party could win.
But the victory margins are expected to be as narrow as one or two seats, threatening the region with a political deadlock.
Catalonia-based political analyst Germa Capdevila told Al Jazeera: “Vox’s segment of the Spanish political spectrum used to be housed within the Popular Party (PP) but is now present, and on the increase, in its own right.
“Furthermore, all those kinds of far-right parties are currently on the increase in Europe.”
But as a near-record 30 to 40 percent of the electorate say they will abstain, he added: “Such high numbers of abstaining and on-the-fence voters means we can’t trust the polls.
“A lot of people aren’t just planning to stay home on Sunday because they’re worried about the pandemic, either.
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“On one side of the Catalan independence debate, which still dominates much of the political narrative here, a fair proportion are disillusioned because they feel the main separatist parties have made next-to-no progress towards Catalonia leaving Spain.
“And the pro-Spanish vote will probably no longer turn out in such large numbers as in the last elections because they no longer consider Catalan independence as a realistic threat.”
Socialist Salvador Illa is currently a frontrunner. If he wins he would be the first non-separatist leader of Catalonia since 2010.
Miguel Otero, a senior analyst from Madrid-based think tank Royal Elcano Institute, told The Times: “These elections are important because of the heavyweight of Catalonia in the Spanish economy.
“They will show whether, in the midst of a pandemic, Catalan people are fed up of the pro-independence politics that have dominated public discourse.”
“They will also determine whether Vox becomes the go-to party for conservative, centralist Catalans disenchanted with both Ciudadanos and the PP.”
In October 2017, Catalonia’s regional government held an unconstitutional referendum on independence without permission from Madrid.
Organisers said 90 percent of voters backed a split but turnout was only 43 percent amid a boycott by unionists.
After the referendum, the Catalan Parliament voted in a secret ballot to approve a resolution declaring independence from Spain by a vote of 70–10 in the absence of the constitutionalist deputies, who refused to participate in a vote considered illegal for violating the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Spain.
Not a single state recognised this as legitimate.
Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium after the failed bid to break up from Spain.
Puigdemont is now a member of the European Parliament.
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