By the time 96 percent of votes had been counted at 11pm on Sunday, with a majority of seats – 62 out of 135 – going to his Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) coalition, Catalan premier Artur Mas had already been celebrating victory for nearly two hours.
At 9.15pm, the Catalan premier called his bloc’s results at the regional elections a “double victory.”
“Today we have a double victory. The ‘yes’ vote has won, and democracy has won as well,” said Mas about a parliamentary election that he has cast as a proxy vote on the issue of independence.
Catalan premier Artur Mas
Prior to the elections, secessionist leaders had announced their intention to carry on with the breakaway process and declare independence within 18 months, should they earn an absolute majority of seats on Sunday.
The results indicate that Mas and his partners will in all likelihood carry on creating “state structures,” such a tax collection agency, despite Madrid’s vocal opposition to such a plan.
“We will not let up. We have won despite having everything against us, and this gives us enormous strength and great legitimacy to carry this project forward,” Mas told a crowd of cheering supporters.
The Catalan premier, who heads the Convergence (CDC) party, also asked rivals to respect the results of the election.
“Just like we, as democrats, would have accepted defeat, we ask for others to accept Catalonia’s victory and the victory of ‘yes’.”
However, because an absolute majority is set at 68 out of a total of 135 seats at the Catalan assembly, Junts pel Sí will require support from the other secessionist contender in Sunday’s elections, CUP, which is set to secure 10 representatives according to the latest count.
The numbers also suggested that secessionist forces would win the most seats but not the most votes: 39.62% for Junts pel Sí and 8.19% for CUP, for a joint 47.81%.
But Junts pel Sí is attributing itself a victory in votes as well, by not counting support for the leftist coalition Catalunya Sí que es Pot as a ‘no’ vote for independence. This group, which includes the anti-austerity party Podemos, has stated that it does not wish Catalonia to secede from Spain, but that it supports a referendum in the region.
“The ‘yes’ option has won in votes and in seats,” said Oriol Junqueras of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), Mas’s main partner in Junts pel Sí. “We have a more than sufficient majority to forge ahead with independence for Catalonia.”
Mas also sought to allay concerns about a growing rift among supporters and detractors of independence in Catalonia, where the non-secessionist party Ciudadanos has become the second most-voted party with 25 seats.
“We will manage victory in a spirit of cohesion within Catalonia, and a spirit of concord with Spain, Europe and the world,” he said.
English version by Susana Urra