Separatists & unionists face off in election that could decide Catalonia’s future
Catalans are heading to the polls as pro-independence parties pit themselves against unionists in a highly-anticipated election that will determine what comes next for Catalonia’s separatist movement.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the election in October after the Catalonian government in Barcelona declared its independence following an illegal referendum. Spain responded by suspending the region’s autonomy and firing its government.
The vote will be divided along the region’s separatist and unionist party lines. The pro-independence parties are the Together for Catalonia (JxCat), headed by deposed regional president Carles Puigdemont, Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP). The unionist parties are the People’s Party (PP), Ciutadans (Cs) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). The Catalonia in Common party remains in the middle on the issue.
El país no està malalt, està ocupat. El #21D veurem si la ciutadania està d'acord en fer una genuflexió davant el 155 o si ens mantenim ferms i impecables en allò que era i és el nostre compromís: construir una República lliure, democràtica i pacífica https://t.co/A1fNhuj7Nzpic.twitter.com/XzMju3zkdL— Carles Puigdemont 🎗 (@KRLS) December 19, 2017
9AM sharp and the polling stations have opened. The Catalans are there early before work to exercise their civic right. #21dpic.twitter.com/DkDmLVqp6w— EuropeanFreeAlliance (@EUPARTYEFA) December 21, 2017
Comencem! #21D#FemRepublicapic.twitter.com/LqKH95ETbj— Laia Ferrer (@laiafs) December 21, 2017
Voting day in Catalonia. We will never forget what Spanish gov did on oct1. Despite their abuse of force, >2 million people voted. Dignity won. Let’s do it again. #21Dpic.twitter.com/LS28yawCAN— Àlex Hinojo (@AlexHinojo) December 21, 2017
A hung parliament is expected, which will see coalition negotiations take place before a government can be formed.
Puigdemont is in Brussels, where he fled as the attorney general sought charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds against him after the declaration of independence. Although he has said he would return to Catalonia if he wins, he is likely to be arrested.
A number of independence politicians are in prison, also as part of an investigation into the October events.
Results are expected late Thursday, but won’t be officially declared until January 5. Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows it to have direct rule over Catalonia, will remain in effect until a new government is in place.
@elmonarac1#21DRAC1 Al Papiol es pot votar d #Groc sense problemes !!!!#LlibertatPresosPolíticspic.twitter.com/pw2110ZU2x— Quim Molins ll*ll (@qmolins) December 21, 2017
Acabo de votar-te...✊🏼 pic.twitter.com/asyOx2KGGl— Mimi 🎗 #REPÚBLICA (@mireiaKdS) December 21, 2017
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says he hopes today will return Catalonia to what he calls "normality" under a unionist government or separatist government that will not seek a unilateral split.
However, Puigdemont told reporters in Brussels: "Today is not a normal… democratic day: there are candidates in jail, there is fear... but we're hoping that by the end of the day we'll be back to some normality."