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Catalan separatist parties lose majority as Spain's Socialists win regional elections


Voters went to the polls in Spain's region of Catalonia on Sunday some six years after a botched independence bid threw the country into its worst political crisis in decades. This vote was about choosing a new regional parliament, not leaving Spain. However, as Miguel Macias reports, the results could determine the future of the separatist movement.

MIGUEL MACIAS, BYLINE: If you are looking for a clear headline to this regional election in Caronia, here it is.

MARIA RAMIREZ: Well, what we know is that the pro-independence parties got the worst result in many years.

MACIAS: That is Maria Ramirez, deputy managing editor of elDiario in Spain. She's talking about the independence movement in Catalonia. It is not a united front, but even if you bundled all the separatist parties together, they only received 46% of the total vote. And to pour more salt into the wound...


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting in non-English language).

MACIAS: ...The candidate who won the election is Salvador Illa, from the Socialist party of Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez.


SALVADOR ILLA: (Non-English language spoken).

MACIAS: The socialists got their best ever result in Catalonia with almost 30% of the vote and the most seats of any party in parliament.


MACIAS: But that is where the simple headlines end. The pro-independence party leads the current government. Now, the socialists can try to form a new coalition, but because eight parties won seats in Sunday's votes from the far right to the far left, that won't be easy. Maria Ramirez says that the fall of the independence score is because voters want to focus on other issues such as the economy, inequality and how to address the devastating drought. But the result of this election also have national consequences.

RAMIREZ: Probably the strategy of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the strategy of appeasement with some of the separatist politicians, probably is paying off.

MACIAS: Ramirez is talking about the amnesty law put forward by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. It would clear Catalan separatist leaders indicted in the 2017 referendum Spanish courts said was illegal. The political opposition says the amnesty law is a sellout, even illegal. Whatever it is, it seems to be a gamble that worked. Sanchez seems to have taken the wind out of the sails of the independence movement in Catalonia. For NPR News, I'm Miguel Macias in Seville, Spain. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Miguel Macias is a Senior Producer at All Things Considered, where he is proud to work with a top-notch team to shape the content of the daily show.