Catalan separatists win regional election in Spain

The Catalan separatists Junts pel Si won a clear majority in the Catalonia election, raising questions about whether the region will remain a part of Spain.

“Catalans have voted yes to independence,” said acting regional government head Artur Mas.

Catalonia is a powerful region of Spain, containing major cities such as Barcelona and 7.5 million people.

Voter turn out for the election was a record 78 percent, of which, separatist parties gained 47.8 percent of the vote.

The result is a commanding majority in Catalonia’s parliament, with Junts pel Si getting 62 seats of 135, and the CUP, a smaller Catalan separatist party getting another 10.

“That gives us a great strength and strong legitimacy to keep on with this project,”said Mas.

This separatist victory just three months before a national election is a blow to right-wing Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who called the notion of Catalan separation “nonsense” and vowed to oppose it in court.

Despite the apparent victory for separatism, opinion polls show that a majority of Catalans would prefer to stay with Spain if they got a better tax deal, and protections for their language and culture.