‘THIS is a result which no one can dispute,’ deposed Catalan independence leader Carles Puigdemont told a news conference in Brussels yesterday.
‘The Spanish state was defeated. (Spanish Prime Minister Mariano) Rajoy and his allies lost. Mariano Rajoy has received a slap in the face from Catalonia,’ he told reporters after Thursday’s Catalonia election.
This delivered a mandate back to the region’s ousted independence leaders on a record 82% turnout after they campaigned from exile and behind bars. With 68 seats needed for an overall majority in the 135-seat parliament, those parties who support breaking away from Spain managed to maintain their position as the largest grouping.
Puigdemont hailed the victory for pro-independence parties as a ‘new political step’ that would be ‘marked by political solutions, not by repression’. At his press conference in Brussels yesterday, Puigdemont predicted the formation of a ‘normality government’ marked by institutional continuity. But he said the fight for independence would go on.
‘Catalonia wants to be an independent state,’ said the former president, adding the next step would be talks with Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Now is the time for dialogue,’ he said, stressing: ‘The recipe of Rajoy doesn’t work. We need to find new ways, a political solution. We have a duty to serve the mandate of the ballot boxes – it’s clear, despite all the efforts coming from the Spanish state and the violence.’
He added: ‘We need to find a way to organise the referendum for independence and then respect the results of it.’ Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia list secured the best result of the three separatist groupings, in a major upset for Rajoy.
Thursday’s election saw a record turnout at the polls of 82%, six points more than in 2015. The biggest loser of election night was the People’s Party (PP) of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, which obtained only three seats.