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Spain's Catalan Separatists Claim Victory in Local Parliamentary Polls

  • VOA News

Catalonian pro-independence supporters celebrate in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday Sept. 27, 2015.

Catalonian pro-independence supporters celebrate in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday Sept. 27, 2015.

Separatists in northeastern Spain's Catalonia region claimed victory Sunday in local parliamentary polls that could push the region toward a faceoff with the central government over independence.

Nationalist regional president Artur Mas spoke to jubilant supporters late Sunday in Barcelona. "We have won," he told crowds of flag-waving independence backers. He spoke with more than 80 percent of the vote already tallied.

A key exit poll shows Mas's pro-independence alliance "Together for Yes" falling about five votes short of an absolute majority in the 135-member parliament needed to push toward their goal of independence by 2017. But a smaller leftist secession party known as CUP was shown likely to win another 11 to 13 seats.

Ahead of the vote, the two parties said such a result would allow them to unilaterally declare independence within 18 months.

Under that plan, Catalan authorities envision approving their own constitution, and eventually creating a Catalan central bank and judiciary.

Spain's national government in Madrid had not offered official comment on the outcome by late Sunday.

But it has blocked a series of earlier Catalan independence initiatives, including a 2006 independence declaration that the Spanish Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional.

The central government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said it will use all legal means to prevent secession -- a move that the European Union has warned could result in ejection from the 28-nation trade bloc.

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