Spain: Pro-independence parties win Catalan elections
November 26, 2012
The nationalist right-centre Convergencia i Unio (CiU) party won the 25 November parliamentary elections in Catalonia. However, CiU - which had called for early elections promising to hold a referendum for independence within four years if achieving an ample majority - suffered an electoral defeat, losing 12 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament and falling well short of reaching an absolute majority. CiU's leader, Catalan President Artur Mas stated that he will continue to pursue his secessionist agenda, but admitted that the situation is now "more complex". CiU is expected to attempt to form a coalition with left-wing Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), the traditional separatist party in Catalonia, which came in second. Together, both groups would likely continue to push on with a separatist agenda, but a coalition government between the two parties could prove to be unstable, as their political views on several issues are radically different, with ERC strongly opposing the harsh austerity policies implemented by CiU in recent years. The results of the Catalan election provide Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with a momentary respite, after President Mas's bold bid for independence backfired. However, with pro-independence parties having achieved a majority in the regional parliament, the issue of Catalonia's independence seems set to continue to dominate the political agenda in the coming years. Markets were largely untroubled by the Catalan vote, with the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds remaining broadly stable at 5.6% on 26 November.