Both Sides Claim Victory in Catalonia

Separatists and unionists each find reason to claim victory. The view from abroad is that nobody won.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaks with his predecessor, Artur Mas, in Barcelona, Spain, February 12, 2016
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaks with his predecessor, Artur Mas, in Barcelona, Spain, February 12, 2016 (Generalitat de Catalunya/Jordi Bedmar)

Both separatists and unionists are claiming victory in Catalonia after the election on Thursday gave a majority of the seats (seventy out of 135) but not the votes (47.5 percent) to the former.

The view from abroad is that nobody won.

Separatists

  • Carles Puigdemont, former regional president and leader of Together for Catalonia: “The Spanish state has been defeated. … Mariano Rajoy has received a slap in the face from Catalonia.”
  • Marta Rovira, general security of the Republican Left: “The summary of the night is very simple: the independence movement has won these elections again and Mariano Rajoy has lost.”
  • El Nacional: “The Catalan people [have] voted for the restoration of Carles Puigdemont to the presidency of Catalonia.”
  • VilaWeb: “The republic has triumphed at the polls and soon the legitimate government of Catalonia, which Mariano Rajoy tried to suppress with an illegal coup d’état, will resume its place.”

Unionists

  • Inés Arrimadas, leader of the Citizens party: “The pro-secession forces can never again claim they speak for all for Catalonia.”
  • Mariano Rajoy, Spanish prime minister: “It is obvious that the social fracture in Catalan society is very deep. … What is clear is that no one can speak on behalf of Catalonia.”
  • ABC: “Historic and sweet victory for Arrimadas”
  • El País: “Separatists lack a social majority to legitimize a break from Spain; they lack credible candidates, clear and coherent governing programs and, above all, they lack the strategic unity that is necessary to function in an articulate manner.”

International

  • Bloomberg: “[T]he best outcome in this dispute — and one well within reach — is a settlement based on discussion. Rajoy needs to ignore the provocations of a refreshed separatist alliance and rise to that challenge. The separatists, for their part, need to curb the triumphalism and reflect on the fact that most Catalans failed to support their cause.”
  • CBC News: “Rather than resolving the issue, Thursday’s results giving the secessionist parties a slim majority have simply confirmed the deep division that runs through Catalonia over its relationship with the rest of Spain, highlighting a region trapped in a seemingly endless identity crisis.”
  • The Guardian: “The results from Thursday’s vote are disastrous for Rajoy and his conservative government, but are also a headache for those who now have to form a Catalan regional government.”