Separatists grow majority in Catalonia despite Socialist win

BARCELONA, SPAIN (AP) — The pro-union Socialist Party claimed a narrow win in regional elections in Catalonia late Sunday, but the bloc of parties supporting secession by Spain’s northeastern corner widened their control of the regional Parliament.

With 99 per cent of the votes counted, the three main parties pledging to carve out an independent Catalan state increased their number of seats in the regional parliament to 74. In 2017, those same parties won 70 seats of the 135-seat chamber, just two above the majority.

The Socialist party led by former health minister Salvador Illa was poised to take 33 seats with over 625,000 votes. The pro-secession Republican Left of Catalonia was also set to claim 33 seats, but with 580,000 votes.

Despite the huge boost in support for the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who has held talks with the separatists in an attempt to ease tensions with the region, Illa will have a difficult time trying to cobbling together support for a government. He would need the support of several parties, including some separatists.

“This is a clear victory that has one reading: It is time to turn the page, to write a new chapter, to reach out to one another and advance together,” Illa said after his victory.

A man working at a polling station set up in a market takes the temperature during the regional Catalan election in Barcelona. PHOTO AP