Pro-independence parties may keep their absolute majority in Catalonia’s regional parliament, an exit poll suggested after elections on Thursday, potentially prolonging Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.
No official results have yet been published and it was unclear if final results would match the poll, published by La Vanguardia newspaper as voting stations closed.
If confirmed, the projection would open a new, uncertain chapter and cast doubts over Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s ability to draw a line under a crisis that has damaged Spain’s economy and prompted a business exodus away from Catalonia.
The election has become a de facto referendum on how support for the separatist movement has fared since Rajoy sacked Catalonia’s government for holding a banned referendum on Oct. 1 on splitting with Spain and unilaterally declaring independence.
The separatist parties were seen getting 67-71 seats in the 135-seat assembly, the Vanguardia poll showed. The unionist bloc would garner 55 to 62 seats while the local offshoot of anti-austerity party Podemos would get 7 to 8 seats.
The first official preliminary results are expected around 2100 GMT and final results after midnight.
Rajoy had hoped the election would return Catalonia to what he has called “normality” under a unionist government or with a separatist government that will not seek a unilateral split.
Deposed Catalan President Carles Puigdemont urged voters to show they back the movement on Thursday though another secessionist leader, Puigdemont’s former deputy Oriol Junqueras, took a more conciliatory tone towards Madrid in a written interview with Reuters on Monday. (Reuters)