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10/4/15

Spain: Catalans among the pigeons - 51.7% of Catalans voted “no” to independence

Catalonia's election proved a personal triumph for regional president Artur Mas, whose separatist Together for Yes platform was a clear winner though it fell short of an absolute majority in Barcelona‘s parliament.

Barring last minute warfare amongst the component parts of a platform that included his centre-right Catalan Democratic Convergence party, the left-wing Catalan Republican Left and a varied array of independent separatists, Mr Mas will continue to head the regional government of this wealthy corner of north-east Spain.

That was the easy part. Watched intently by other fervent separatist movements around Europe, Mr Mas now plans to follow the “roadmap” to independence that brought this disparate group together for the election—a poll that he billed as a plebiscite on separation from Spain. With the backing of the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy, the separatists have a comfortable parliamentary majority.

But Catalonia's unequal voting system, which favours less-populated rural areas, means this majority was won with fewer than 50% of votes. When looked at as a plebiscite, the result changes. In fact, 51.7% of Catalans voted “no” to independence.

That will make life tricky for Mr Mas as he bids for international support. The roadmap foresees negotiations with Madrid that could prevent a unilateral declaration of independence scheduled for Spring 2017. But Spain must conduct a general election before the end of the year. Only then will we know how Madrid plans to handle the situation

Read more: Daily chart: Catalans among the pigeons | The Economist

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