Friday, December 11, 2015

A Long Road Ahead for Catalans

By Connor Murphy

Following the September 27th Catalonia parliamentary elections, seen widely as a referendum on independence, the Junts Pel Si (JxSi) tallied up 62 of 135 seats in the Catalonian parliament, leaving them 6 seats short of an absolute majority vote. JxSí supporters have nonetheless heralded the election as a victory, with party leader Artur Mas i Gavarró claiming a win.

Catalonian election September 2015

100% reported
68 seats for a majority
Junts pel Sí 

Source: The Guardian – 10/27/2015

Votes cast4.130.19674,95%67,76%
Spoilt ballots15.9520,39%0,90%
Blank ballots21.8950,53%1,44%
Ballots for lists4.092.34999,08%97,65%

Source: Eleccions al Parlament de Catalunya 2015

JxSí claims to victory may be a bit bold, pending a coalition with the reluctant leftist CUP Party, whose 10 seats would guarantee a majority vote. That said, they are not wrong in recognizing support for the movement, a cause which brought 74.95% of voters to the polls, as seen above.
The question now stands as to the future of the movement. While the election results in Catalonia show a popular trend toward independence, the central government in Madrid under Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has taken a firm stance against the movement, and has promised to take action to block any bid for independence. This makes sense, considering the economic clout of Catalonia, as well as the prevalence of other independence movements across Spain.
Also, support in the Catalonian parliament will not translate into general popular support in the Spanish general election this December, or recognition internationally. As seen below, current opinion polls place Mr. Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP) in the lead, followed by the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE), both of which are against Catalan independence. 

Larazon Poll Results: 2015 General Election
Source: Larazon. A dos meses de las elecciones - 10/17/2015

The European Union has also made it known that it does not support nationalist movements, as it struggles to maintain unity and prevent its own members from departing (ie. Greece, UK). Catalonia currently remains a long way from formal independence, however issues such as these will not disappear, as Spain and the EU continue to battle those moving toward the exit.

Kassam, Ashifa. “Catalan separatists win election and claim it as yes vote for breakaway.” The Guardian. 27 Sept. 2015.
Eleccions al Parlament de Catalunya 2015: Generalitat de Catalunya. 27 Sept. 2015.   
“A dos meses de las elecciones: ENCUESTA 17 DE OCTUBRE DE 2015” Larazon. 17 Oct 2015

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Connor Murphy earned a Bachelor's degree in International Affairs and Chinese from the University of Northern Colorado and is pursuing a graduate degree in International Public Opinion and Foreign Policy at the University of Denver. His blog post on the recent Catalonian parliamentary elections was prepared for the course, International Public Opinion and Foreign Policy during Fall 2015.

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